AT TAMPA, FLA.
No. 2 Wake Forest (25-5) vs. No. 10 Auburn (21-11)
Time: 2 p.m. PST
The skinny: Wake Forest struggled against scrappy, athletic East Tennessee State in the first round, and the Demon Deacons today will be going against a team that’s even more athletic. It’s vital that Wake Forest forward Josh Howard has a good day offensively and that power forward Vytas Danelius scores inside and avoids foul trouble. Auburn wants another big game from swingman Marquis Daniels, who keyed the upset of St. Joseph’s. It would help Auburn’s cause if either center Kyle Davis or power forward Marco Killingsworth provides some complementary offense. Wake Forest led the nation in rebounding margin and that could be a key today.
AT BIRMINGHAM, ALA.
No. 4 Louisville (25-6) vs. No. 12 Butler (26-5)
Time: 11:20 a.m. PST
The skinny: Butler was the only No. 12 seed to win in the first round, but the Bulldogs must play a lot better today if they hope to win another game. Louisville’s pressure defense caused problems for Austin Peay. Although Butler is well-coached, the Bulldogs are not that athletic and they could have problems scoring against Louisville. The Cardinals should be able to pound the ball inside to center Marvin Stone and forward Luke Whitehead. Butler will likely play physical, so Stone and Whitehead must be prepared. Expect Louisville to press to force the tempo to get some easy transition baskets. The Cardinals don’t want to let the Bulldogs set the tempo like they did against Mississippi State.
No. 3 Syracuse (25-5) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma State (22-9)
Time: 11:40 a.m. PST
The skinny: Oklahoma State showed it can score against a zone in its 77-63 victory over No. 11 Pennsylvania in the first round. But that was primarily against a 1-2-2. The Syracuse 2-3 can be tougher when it double-teams and shades toward dangerous shooters, like Victor Williams of Oklahoma State, who scored a career-high 29 points against Pennsylvania. If Penn forward Ugonna Onyekwe can score 30 against Oklahoma State, what can Syracuse forward Carmelo Anthony do? The Cowboys must stop the penetration of Syracuse’s Anthony and Billy Edelin, who scored easily at times, combining for 32 points in a 76-65 first-round victory over Manhattan. The Cowboys must excel on defense to prevent Syracuse from advancing to an East semifinal in Albany, N.Y.