March Madness continues: Ranking the eight NCAA men's tournament games to watch Sunday
Your bracket has already been blown up, destroyed, disintegrated and embarrassed. Don’t pretend otherwise — we all know it’s true.
How many teams will you have in your Sweet 16? We'll know who advances after Sunday's eight-game slate featuring some of the highest seeds still standing after a wacky and unpredictable start to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
But we'll all be paying close attention to the outlier, as No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson looks to build off Friday night's historic upset of No. 1 Purdue with a second-round matchup against No. 9 Florida Atlantic.
Keep this in mind, though: Of the eight games played Sunday, six feature the highest possible seeds — No. 6 against No. 3, No. 5 against No. 4 and No. 7 against No. 2.
Here's the list of Sunday's games ranked by watchability:
No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic
TIME/TV: Sunday, 7:45 p.m., TruTV
Five years ago, Maryland-Baltimore County upset Virginia to become the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed and then lost a close game to Kansas State in the second round. Can FDU make even more history as the first No. 16 to reach the Sweet 16? On one hand, any team that can outwork and intimidate Purdue could have the same luck against Florida Atlantic. On the other, FAU has more shooters than the Boilermakers and averaged nearly 79 points per game during the regular season. Despite the change in seed, this should be a tougher matchup for the Knights.
No. 5 Saint Mary's vs. No. 4 Connecticut
TIME/TV: Sunday, 6:10 p.m., TNT
UConn went into halftime down two points to Iona but ran the Gaels out of the gym across the final 20 minutes. If you're a believer in the Huskies' ability to reach the Final Four — and the bandwagon has filled up fast the past few weeks — the second half against Iona only supports that faith. Saint Mary's has a veteran, winning team that is more than capable of dictating tempo against UConn. But that may not matter if Adama Sanogo stays hot and Jordan Hawkins finds his stroke.
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No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Kansas State
TIME/TV: Sunday, 2:40 p.m., CBS
Wildcats face Wildcats as two teams flying under the national radar compete for a Sweet 16 bid. Kansas State has hit the ground running under rookie coach Jerome Tang but could be in trouble against forward Oscar Tshiebwe and Kentucky's frontcourt, which is among the nation's best at hitting the offensive glass. Kentucky ranks second in Division I in offensive rebounds (13.7 per game) while Kansas State is 154th in defensive rebounds and 117th in rebounding margin.
No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 3 Baylor
TIME/TV: Sunday, 7:10 p.m., TBS
Transfers have played a huge for both teams heading into this matchup. Baylor's offseason additions included forwards Jalen Bridges (West Virginia) and Caleb Lohner (Brigham Young). Creighton brought in guard Baylor Scheierman (South Dakota State), who put in the win-sealing bucket late against No. 11 North Carolina State. The Bears and coach Scott Drew continue to put together elite backcourt play but will need to step up near the basket to contain Creighton big man Ryan Kalkbrenner. The junior has scored at least 20 points in three of the past four games, led by a career-best 31 points against the Wolfpack.
No. 6 TCU vs. No. 3 Gonzaga
TIME/TV: Sunday, 9:40 p.m., TBS
It's been years since Gonzaga has been this overlooked come tournament time. Ironically, it could be this team that finally delivers a national championship for coach Mark Few after two previous Final Four appearances. Led by All-America forward Drew Timme, Gonzaga seems to have a big advantage in the frontcourt against a TCU team that is athletic up front but short, with no starter over 6-foot-7. The Horned Frogs are very hard to predict but also dangerous, as shown in this year's 23-point win at Kansas and its struggles in the first round against Arizona State.
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Marquette
TIME/TV: Sunday, 5:15 p.m., CBS
There are few things more reliable in March than Tom Izzo and MSU getting at least one win; the Spartans' longtime coach is 54-23 in tournament play after Friday's win against Southern California. Marquette is led by point guard Tyler Kolek, the Big East player of the year, but keep an eye on backcourt mate Kam Jones, who scored 18 consecutive points in the second half in the win against Vermont.
No. 5 Miami (Fla.) vs. No. 4 Indiana
TIME/TV: Sunday, 8:40 p.m., TNT
Miami was tested by Drake in the first round while Indiana basically breezed past Kent State. For the Hurricanes, getting past the Hoosiers demands more from guards Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller, who went a combined 3 of 17 for 12 points against the Bulldogs. It'll take a team effort to slow down Indiana senior big man Trayce Jackson-Davis, who was incredible against the Golden Flashes: 24 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks and 5 assists.
No. 11 Pittsburgh vs. No. 3 Xavier
TIME/TV: Sunday, 12:10 p.m., CBS
The Panthers put the clamps on Iowa State with a dominant defensive performance to earn a shot at the Musketeers, which was pushed to the brink by No. 14 Kennesaw State. That fed into charges that Xavier was ranked too high as a No. 3, though the Musketeers did finish the regular season in second place in a very good Big East. A former Pittsburgh point guard, Xavier coach Sean Miller has faced the Panthers once in his coaching career, losing to the Panthers in 2009 Sweet 16.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: March Madness: Ranking all eight NCAA Tournament games to watch Sunday