Kentucky (7:10 p.m. vs. Saint Peter’s), UCLA (approximately 9:50 p.m. vs. Akron) and Kansas (approximately 9:57 p.m. vs. Texas Southern) are among the blue bloods scheduled to be in action tonight, and three games pitting No. 8 seeds vs. No. 9 seeds (Boise State vs. Memphis at 1:45 p.m., North Carolina vs. Marquette at approximately 4:30 p.m., and San Diego State vs. Creighton at 7:27 p.m.) are also on the schedule.
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Patrick Stevens: No one with the possible exception of Wisconsin is at home in tight games this season as Providence, and it surely helped the fourth-seeded Friars when they found themselves in a predictably tight first round game against Summit League champ South Dakota State.But more than any intangible, Providence has defended far more often than not this season, and it has that end of the floor to thank for its 66-57 victory in Buffalo.The 13th-seeded Jackrabbits (30-4) easily led the country with a 44.9 three-point shooting percentage and had won 21 in a row coming into the day. But Providence held them to 7 of 23 from the outside, a modest-by-nearly-any-standard 30.4 percent day.It was a methodical day for a methodical team. Providence led by as many as 14, saw the advantage trimmed to three a couple times in the closing minutes and then finished off yet another tight victory.Bottom line: Providence is now 16-2 in games decided by single-digit margins. And they’re not done with what is arguably already the program’s most memorable season in a quarter-century — if not since its 1987 Final Four run.The Friars (26-5), the Big East’s regular season champions, are on to the second round for the first time since winning an 8/9 game in 2016 and only the second time since the God Shammgod-fueled Elite Eight team in 1997.
Patrick Stevens: The 11-over-6 spot on the Bingo card got crossed off in a hurry, and Michigan offered up a microcosm of its up-and-down, traction-free season as it took down Colorado State, 75-63. The 11th-seeded Wolverines (18-14) didn’t play well in the slightest in the first half, understandably sloppy with starting point guard DeVante’ Jones sidelined after getting concussed in practice. Michigan fumbled away nine turnovers in 32 possessions in the first half, and it is little wonder it trailed by 15 at one point.But by taking better care of the ball (six second-half turnovers), finally making a few timely three-pointers (4 of 7 from three in the second half) and forcing the Rams into more outside shots than they’d like, the Wolverines made it through to the second round.Credit the balance of four double-figure scorers for some of the success, but Colorado State (25-6) never found an answer Michigan sophomore Hunter Dickinson (21 points on 8 of 10 shooting) in the post. The Rams had interior problems at the other end, too. They began the day 10th in the country in two-point percentage according to KenPom.com, but were just 36.7 percent from two and a ghastly 5 of 14 (35.7 percent) on layups.Michigan has alternated wins and losses for its last 11 games, which is hardly a vote of confidence for Saturday, but the Wolverines did ensure a No. 11 seed made it into the round of 32 for the sixth consecutive tournament. No. 11s are now 12-9 against No. 6 seeds in that span.