March Madness: What to Watch in Sunday’s Games

The first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will wrap up on Sunday with eight games from Pittsburgh, Greenville, SC, Milwaukee and San Diego.

And by the end of the night, the original 68-team field will be pared to the final 16.

The remaining teams will then play beginning Thursday in four regionals in Philadelphia (East), Chicago (Midwest), San Antonio (South) and San Francisco (West). By the end of play on March 27, a quartet of teams will remain, and they will head to the Final Four in New Orleans for the national semifinals and final April 2 and 4.

On Sunday, some of the biggest coaching names in men’s college basketball will be on display, including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski facing off against his old friend, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, one last time before Krzyzewski retires following this season.

Villanova coach Jay Wright, who has won two of the last five national championships, as well as Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, Purdue’s Matt Painter, Texas’ Chris Beard and Notre Dame’s Mike Brey — all of whom are chasing their first titles — will also be leading their teams.

Here’s what to watch for (all times Eastern):

MICHIGAN STATE vs. DUKE | 5:15 pm | CBS

This will be the sixth NCAA tournament meeting between a pair of coaches, the most ever. Krzyzewski, 75, is 12-3 against Izzo, 67, including a 3-2 record in the tournament.

“Here we go again…MSU vs. Duke and Coach Izzo vs. Coach K on Sunday!” tweeted Magic Johnson, who starred at Michigan State. “America, you’re in for a treat!”

The two coaching legends are rivals on the court, but close friends off it.

“He’s the example, he’s the role model that the rest of us have to live up to and, hopefully, I’m one of the guys he passes that baton to,” Izzo said in a television interview.

“We’re good enough friends that he knows that I have to compete on Sunday, and I know that he has to, so it’s like the Hatfields and the McCoys, you go to war for a day, but the respect and the admiration will be there for a lifetime.”

The Spartans captured the most recent matchup in the round of 8 in 2019, when they took down a Duke team featuring the current NBA players Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish.

One thing to keep an eye on will be the health of Duke junior wing Wendell Moore Jr., who slipped on the floor and did a full split in Duke’s win over Cal State Fullerton on Friday.

“Wendell’s hurt, I hope he’s going to be OK for Sunday,” Krzyzewski said in a television interview. “That floor. It seems like a floor where they play hockey in here. Everybody was slipping. We got to be careful, he may have pinched his hip.”

Purdue vs. Texas | 8:40 pm | DTT

Purdue’s Painter is regarded as one of the best coaches in the business. But for all his success—four appearances in the final 16 and one in the final eight—he’s never been to a Final Four.

To have a chance this season, he will have to overcome a coach who has had his number in the postseason. Texas’ Beard is 2-0 against Purdue in the tournament. In 2016, Beard led No. 12-seeded Arkansas Little Rock over No. 5-seeded Purdue, 85-83, in double overtime. As the coach of Texas Tech two years later, Beard led the Red Raiders over Purdue, 78-65, to advance to the round of 8.

Beard is 10-3 in the NCAA tournament, 5-0 in the first round. But now he has to deal with Purdue’s vaunted frontcourt of 7-foot-4 Zach Edey and 6-10 Trevion Williams. Texas will also have to find a way to stay in front of the Boilermakers’ 6-4 star sophomore guard Jaden Ivey, a projected NBA lottery pick who averages 17.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

The Big 12 was a perfect 6-0 through the first two days of the tournament while the Big Ten went 6-3.

From the Big 12, Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas Christian and Iowa State all won their first-round games by an average of 23 points. No. 9 seed TCU, which finished tied for fifth in the league, hammered No. 8 seed Seton Hall of the Big East, 69-42, in the last first-round game on Friday night. No. 11 seed Iowa State, picked last in a Big 12 preseason poll, knocked off No. 7 seed Louisiana State, 59-54, as the freshman guard Tyrese Hunter became the second player in tournament history with seven 3-pointers and five steals in a game. The other player was Stephen Curry, the NBA superstar who played for Davidson.

The vaunted Big Ten, considered by many the deepest conference in the nation, had six teams remaining after the first round, including Wisconsin and Illinois, which shared the regular-season title and overcame separate scares on Friday. Wisconsin, a No. 3 seed, fended off pesky No. 14 seed Colgate, while No. 4 seed Illinois trailed No. 13 seed Chattanooga until the final 45 seconds. The Illini advanced after Alfonso Plummer hit two free throws with 12 seconds left.

Notre Dame vs. Texas Tech | 7:10 pm | TBS

A team from the play-in round has advanced to at least the round of 32 in 10 of the last 11 NCAA tournaments, and No. 11-seeded Notre Dame is the latest to do so.

After edging Rutgers in double overtime in a game that began Wednesday night and ended after midnight Thursday, Coach Mike Brey and company flew to San Diego, where they had to turn around and play sixth-seeded Alabama in the round of 64 on Friday afternoon. They advanced, 78-64, thanks largely to junior guard Cormac Ryan, a New York native who poured in 29 points while making 7 of 9 3-pointers.

After the game, Brey jokingly told his team in the locker room: “Hey, you know the great thing? At least we don’t have to get on a plane tonight. Should we get on a plane and fly around a little bit because that worked for us?”

The Irish presumably stayed in San Diego without getting on a plane, which is just as well. They needed whatever rest they could get heading into a tough matchup with No. 3-seeded Texas Tech.

Whatever else you do on Sunday, catching the Duke-Michigan State game, which tips at 5:15 pm Eastern, should be the top priority. Any time Duke plays now, it could end up being Krzyzewski’s final game.

Get things started after lunch with a 12:10 pm tip between Houston, a Final Four team a year ago, and Illinois. Then check out Ohio State-Villanova at 2:40 pm in a matchup of two of the sport’s premier programs. Both of those games are scheduled to air on CBS.

For late-night entertainment, the 8:40 pm tip between Texas and Purdue should be electric.

Leave a Comment