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Friday NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Game Times, Channel Guide, Preview, Open Thread

How to watch the games and what we think will happen.

Josh Richardson and the Volunteers take on Michigan tonight.
Josh Richardson and the Volunteers take on Michigan tonight.
Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, we get to what portends to be perhaps the best day of actual basketball during the NCAA Tournament this year - the Sweet 16 normally delivers when it comes to a combination of quantity and quality of match-ups.  The viewing schedule follows immediately below, and some thoughts on the games follow that.

SB Nation 2014 NCAA March Madness Coverage

Friday's game/TV schedule

Midwest (2) Michigan Wolverines vs. (11) Tennessee Volunteers Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis, IN
715p CBS Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony, Tracy Wolfson
East (3) Iowa State Cyclones vs. (7) Connecticut Huskies Madison Square Garden
New York City, NY
727p TBS Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, Allie LaForce
Midwest (4) Louisville Cardinals vs. (8) Kentucky Wildcats Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis, IN
945p CBS Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony, Tracy Wolfson
East (1) Virginia Cavaliers vs. (4) Michigan St. Spartans Madison Square Garden
New York, NY
957p TBS Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, Allie LaForce

Our thoughts:

  • Tennessee versus Michigan is the game I'm most excited for this entire tournament.  The Volunteers - though we should all rightly loathe them for football season - play some of the most entertaining basketball in the country this year.  And they have a huge match-up advantage over the Wolverines, as Tennessee shoots almost 50% from 2 this year while Michigan concedes almost that exact same percentage.  Combine a 50% hit rate with a 40% offensive rebounding rate, and the Volunteers could play volleyball against the Michigan front line, as Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes simply keep putting shots up.  Speaking of those two, Michigan normally runs out 6'6" Glenn Robinson III at the 4 spot, but he clearly can't guard Stokes or Maymon in the paint.  On the other hand, neither of those two guys can run with Robinson on the perimeter.  While either team may play zone to try to mitigate the damage from the match-up quandry, that would go especially poorly for Michigan, given that zone just allows for an even higher percentage of offensive rebounds.  Expect a game in the 60s (both teams play at very slow paces) but with a high points-per-possession ratio.  I like the Volunteers, but only just.
  • Connecticut and Iowa State is the Dayton/Stanford of this evening - it's a nice game, sure, but they're here because of fortunate match-ups in the first two rounds, and they're probably the two worst teams playing tonight.  Given the injury to Georges Niang for the Cyclones, I like the Huskies to move on.
  • Former Gamecock Anthony Gill and the Virginia Cavaliers take on a very difficult task when they meet four seed Michigan State in Madison Square Garden.  The Spartans are a very trendy choice to make the Final Four out of the region, given that they finally have a healthy line-up this season.  But don't undersell the Cavaliers, who have only lost twice since the calendar turned to 2014 (21-2 against an ACC schedule and their first two tournament games).  The Spartans are the small favorite, mostly due to match-ups, but either team can walk away a winner from this one and it shouldn't surprise you.
  • Kentucky and Louisville renew their rivalry in Indianapolis in the final game of the evening.  The Wildcats won in Rupp earlier this season and have been playing some of their best basketball of the year in the build-up to the tournament, and of course they played in one of the best games of the season last round when they knocked off Wichita State.  That said, we're only four weeks removed from a stretch where Kentucky lost back-to-back games against Arkansas and South Carolina, and I'm not sure they've killed all of those demons just yet.  The big question in this game is whether Andrew Harrison and the Wildcats can keep Louisville from running them over with turnovers.  If the Wildcats can protect the ball, expect them to prevail.
This is your open thread to discuss all of the games, and how the world might respond to the idea of the SEC going 10-0 to start the NCAA Tournament.