AT TAMPA, FLA
No. 7 Michigan State (19-12, 10-6 in Big Ten) vs.
No. 10 Colorado (20-11, 9-7 in Big 12)
Time: 4:10 p.m. PST
Skinny: Colorado has been a major surprise, thanks to a big frontcourt headed by 7-foot David Harrison and some timely outside shooting, usually by Michel Morandais and Blair Wilson. Michigan State struggles on offense -- only guard Chris Hill averages double figures -- but the Spartans are solid defensively.
No. 2 Florida (24-7, 12-4 in Southeastern) vs.
No. 15 Sam Houston State (23-6, 17-3 in Southland)
Time: 6:40 p.m. PST
Skinny: The Gators come in on a three-game losing streak and unsure about the condition of star Matt Bonner and the psyches of freshmen Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh. Still, the Gators have numerous offensive weapons, and when they're hitting from three-point range, they're tough. Sam Houston State, making its first NCAA appearance, has depth and ranks eighth in the nation in blocking shots. Donald Cole will cause some problems down low.
At Birmingham, Ala.
No. 1 Texas (22-6, 13-3 in Big 12) vs.
No. 16 UNC Asheville (15-16, 7-7 in Big South)
Time: 9:30 a.m. PST
Skinny: Texas' T.J. Ford may be the best point guard in the nation, and he's the reason the Longhorns have national-title hopes. James Thomas is a roughneck underneath and does all the dirty work. Texas' outside shooting is a concern, but not against the Bulldogs, who won Tuesday night's play-in game.
No. 8 Louisiana State (21-10, 8-8 in Southeastern) vs.
No. 9 Purdue (18-10, 10-6 in Big Ten)
Time: Noon PST
Skinny: LSU comes in on a roll, and an early-season victory over Arizona shows what this team can do. There are three senior starters, headed by Ronald Dupree, who can carry the team when he's hot. The Tigers also need a big game from Jaime Lloreda. Purdue overachieved this season, thanks to a nice backcourt of Willie Deane and Kenneth Lowe.
No. 14 Troy State (26-5, 14-2 in Atlantic Sun)
Time: 4:25 p.m. PST
Skinny: Troy State, which has won only three times this season when scoring fewer than 70 points, wants to force Xavier into an up-tempo game. Trouble is, the Musketeers have functioned well at a high tempo. Xavier may not have to fire on all cylinders to get past Troy State, but the inside-outside play of forward David West and guard Romain Sato will be interesting to watch.
No. 6 Maryland (19-9, 11-5 in Atlantic Coast) vs.
No. 11 UNC Wilmington (24-6, 13-3 in Colonial Athletic)
Time: 6:55 p.m. PST
Skinny: The experienced backcourt of Steve Blake and Drew Nicholas represents the defending national champion Terrapins' hope of getting back to the Final Four. The Seahawks finished by winning nine in a row and 12 of 13. But with the 165th-ranked schedule in the nation, they haven't seen anything like this. Wilmington needs a huge game from senior guard Brett Blizzard, a 45% three-point shooter.