Times Staff and Wire Services


No. 1 Arizona (25-3, 17-1 in Pac-10) vs.

No. 16 Vermont (21-11, 11-5 in America East)

Time: 12:10 p.m. PST.

Skinny: You can almost pick your own score here. Arizona dominated regular-season conference play whereas Vermont was a surprise entrant from the America East, upsetting regular-season champion Boston University in the tournament title game.

No. 8 Cincinnati (17-11, 9-7 in Conference USA) vs.

No. 9 Gonzaga (23-8,12-2 in West Coast)

Time: 9:40 a.m. PST.

Skinny: Any season you survive a life-threatening heart attack is a great season. At least that's the way Cincinnati Coach Bob Huggins has to look at it. The Bearcats were not so hot on the court, though, and the program has underachieved a bit in the tournament since a run to the Final Four 11 years ago. Bearcat guard Leonard Stokes tends to get overlooked in a conference that features Dwyane Wade and Reece Gaines. Gonzaga has officially arrived as a "program" after making the tournament even after losing the WCC tournament to San Diego.

No. 6 Creighton (29-4, 15-3 in Missouri Valley) vs.

No. 11 Central Michigan (24-6,14-4 in Mid-American)

Time: 4:20 p.m. PST.

Skinny: One of the better first-round matchups featuring mid-major schools. Creighton, led by Kyle Korver, has been a top-20 team all season, even though finished second to Southern Illinois in conference in the regular season. Central Michigan? No one predicted this kind of success for the Chippewas, who swept through the MAC's West Division and the postseason tournament behind the play of 7-foot center Chris Kaman, a probable first-round NBA pick. Last year, Creighton pulled off a first-round upset of Florida in Chicago, but this year the Bluejays tip off as a favorite.

No. 3 Duke (24-6, 11-5 in Atlantic Coast) vs.

No. 14 Colorado State (19-13, 5-9 in Mountain West)

Time: 6:50 p.m. PST.

Skinny: Give Colorado State the home mountain (Rocky) advantage and nothing else in a game that figures to be a rout. Duke, hit by mass NBA defections, was not the dominant squad of previous seasons but turned it on late to win the ACC tournament title. The Blue Devils played four freshman extensive minutes, led by guard J.J. Redick. Colorado State lost seven consecutive conference games in one miserable stretch and would not have made the NCAA tournament if not for an improbable sweep to the Mountain West tournament championship. The Rams boast a big-time player in 7-foot center Matt Nelson.



No. 2 Kansas (25-7, 14-2 in Big 12) vs.

No. 15 Utah State (24-8, 12-6 in Big West)

Time: 6:40 p.m. PST.

Skinny: Coach Roy Williams and his crew are miffed they didn't get a No. 1 seeding. Can they channel their anger and march through the bracket without injured forward Wayne Simien? Utah State will offer respectable resistance with the nation's ninth-rated defense.

No. 7 Memphis (23-6, 13-3 in Conference USA) vs.

No. 10 Arizona State (19-11, 11-7 in Pac-10)

Time: 4:10 p.m. PST.

Skinny: The Tigers are anchored by forward Chris Massie (16.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg). The Sun Devils lean on dominant freshman center Ike Diogu for nearly 20 points a game, but wouldn't be here without his supporting cast of four seniors.



No. 4 Illinois (24-6, 11-5 in Big Ten) vs.

No. 13 Western Kentucky (24-8, 12-2 in Sun Belt)

Time: 4:10 p.m. PST.

Skinny: Junior-senior dominated Western Kentucky, in its third consecutive NCAA tournament, won't be flustered easily. Illinois will focus on stopping three-point ace Patrick Sparks (.381) and try to capitalize on its height advantage -- with 6-10 Brian Cook, 6-10 James Augustine and 7-2 Nick Smith off the bench -- to wear the Hilltoppers down in front of a pro-Illini crowd.

No. 5 Notre Dame (22-9, 10-6 in Big East) vs.

No. 12 Wisconsin Milwaukee (24-7, 13-3 in Horizon League)

Time: 6:40 p.m. PST.

Skinny: Horizon League first-teamers Dylan Page and Clay Tucker have helped the Panthers become the highest-scoring team in the Horizon League (77.3 points a game). Notre Dame has been an up-and-down team. If the down team shows up, this could be one of the first big upsets of the tournament.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World