No. 1 Illinois vs. No. 9 Nevada
TIME: 8:10 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Illinois d. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson 67-55; Nevada d. No. 8 Texas 61-57.
THE BUZZ: Illinois did not look like a No. 1 seed in the first round, and the Illini must play a lot better today if they don't want to go home. Illini Gs Dee Brown, Luther Head and Deron Williams are going to get their points, but that trio needs some offensive help from Fs Roger Powell and James Augustine. Illinois was outrebounded by 12 by FDU, and Nevada actually has a legit frontcourt. The Wolf Pack edged a depth-shy Texas team despite a subpar game from star F Nick Fazekas. If Fazekas does his usual star turn, gets help from F Kevinn(CQ) Pinkney and the Wolf Pack can avoid turning it over more than 15 times, this will be mighty interesting. Nevada is awful from 3-point range (just 27 percent), but some 3-pointers would go a long way toward helping it pull the upset.
No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 11 UAB
SITE: Boise, Idaho
TIME: 5:50 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Arizona d. No. 14 Utah State 66-53; UAB d. No. 6 LSU 82-68.
THE BUZZ: UAB beat LSU far worse than the score indicates. But UAB was helped immensely by LSU's bad backcourt. Arizona doesn't have a bad backcourt. Indeed, sharp-shooting G Salim Stoudamire can expect some wide-open looks because of UAB's style of defense. In addition, Wildcats C Channing Frye should be able do some damage down low against UAB's smallish frontcourt. UAB's defensive goal is to make opponents play faster than they want. That's hard to do with Arizona, which thrives in an up-tempo game. To pull the upset, UAB needs to force at least 20 turnovers and use its depth to wear down the Wildcats. The Blazers have been here before, though: They beat top-seeded Kentucky in the second round last season.
No. 4 Boston College vs. No. 12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee
TIME: 5:30 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: BC d. No. 13 Penn 85-65; UWM d. No. 5 Alabama 83-73.
THE BUZZ: BC will be much more diligent pounding the ball inside against UWM's smallish frontcourt than Alabama, which seemed content to shoot from the perimeter. BC's inside duo of Craig Smith and Jared Dudley has pulverized foes all season and must continue to do so. UWM plays solid defense, but the Panthers haven't seen a 1-2 punch like Dudley and Smith. UWM was on fire from 3-point range against the Tide -- 10 in the first half alone -- and that needs to continue today. That puts the onus on Boo Davis and Ed McCants to hit their shots. BC is better defensively than Alabama, so open looks are going to be harder to come by.
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Cincinnati
TIME: 5:40 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Kentucky d. No. 15 Eastern Kentucky 72-64; Cincinnati d. No. 10 Iowa 76-64.
THE BUZZ: Don't expect a lot of offense, as both teams play gritty, in-your-face defense. Cincy relies heavily on its frontcourt of Jason Maxiell, Eric Hicks and James White for points, with Maxiell the key player. If UK shuts him down, Cincy is in a ton of trouble. Some 3-pointers from Armein Kirkland and Nick Williams would help the Bearcats' cause. Kentucky lacks great individual talent, but the players know their roles, generally don't make silly mistakes and play defense with a passion. Fs Chuck Hayes and Kelenna Azebuike are the key guys offensively. G Patrick Sparks may have trouble getting off his shot against the physical Bearcats.
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. NO. 6 Utah
SITE: Tucson, Ariz.
TIME: 3:40 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Oklahoma d. No. 14 Niagara 84-67; Utah d. No. 11 UTEP 60-54.
THE BUZZ: The key guy is Utah C Andrew Bogut, a double-double machine who may be the nation's best player. All of the pressure is on him today; he needs to score 30 if the Utes are to win. Utah's problem is there is no consistent No. 2 scorer, so Oklahoma's big men can be expected to beat on Bogut all day. The Sooners are better offensively than in seasons past. PG Drew Lavender is jet-quick, and in big men Kevin Bookout and Taj Gary, the Sooners have an explosive low-post duo. Utah has to get some points from its backcourt of Tim Drisdom and Marc Jackson. It would help if a lot of those points came from outside, which would open up the lane for Bogut, who can take any collegian in the nation one-on-one.