JON WILNER'S NCAA PREVIEW: SATURDAY'S GAMES

A look at Saturday's third-round games.

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SOUTH

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh (9:15 a.m., CBS): It's always dangerous to make assumptions based on one game -- in this case, the way Pittsburgh steamrollered Colorado and Florida struggled with No. 16 Albany. A far better indicator of the challenge looming for the tournament's No. 1 overall seed is this: Pitt has won three of the past four, with North Carolina as one of its victims, and had a razor-close loss to Virginia on a neutral court. If the Gators don't ramp up the urgency, they'll be watching the Sweet 16 from home.

Pick: Florida.

No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Dayton (4:10 p.m., TBS): Hard to imagine the Flyers will have much emotional fuel remaining after their buzzer-beating win over in-state enemy Ohio State. Meanwhile, the Orange were all business in dispatching Western Michigan, with point guard Tyler Ennis (16 points, six assists) looking like the first-round pick he'll be in three months. The Syracuse zone is tough to decode under any circumstances. To get ready in one day is extraordinaryly difficult.

Pick: Syracuse.

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EAST

No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Harvard (5:40 p.m., TNT): Don't expect the Crimson to lapse into the happy-to-be-here mode, because they were in this position last year. (After an upset of New Mexico, they were blown off the court by Arizona.) They are skilled and athletic and will push the Spartans to the brink if the higher seed shows up assuming victory. If the Spartans are on their game, it's a different story: They have too much of everything for Harvard, especially too much Adreian Payne.

Pick: Michigan State

No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 7 Connecticut (6:40 p.m., TBS): One of the most anticipated games of the third round -- hence the primetime broadcast -- matches former major-market Big East rivals. UConn needed overtime to escape St. Joe's, with guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright playing more than 40 minutes. Villanova polished off UW Milwaukee in impressive fashion and should be fresher. (No starters played more than 30 minutes). Nova is a 3.5-point favorite. Expect this to be in doubt with a minute remaining.

Pick: Connecticut.

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WEST

No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 12 North Dakota State (3:10 p.m., TNT): Both teams advanced with overtime victories Thursday. The Aztecs looked wobbly down the stretch against New Mexico State, failing numerous times to put the game out of reach, while NDSU made a series of big plays to outlast Oklahoma. This is a difficult matchup for SDSU, which plays stout defense but is overly reliant upon guard Xavier Thames for scoring, especially in pressure situations. NDSU has several options, including guard Lawrence Alexander (28 points against Oklahoma). Smells like an upset.

Pick: North Dakota State.

No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 7 Oregon (4:45 p.m., CBS): Let's not read too much into the Ducks' 19-point win over Brigham Young, which was overseeded and playing its first game without injured point guard Kyle Collinsworth, its best all-around player. That said, the Ducks will pose problems for the Badgers with their versatility and balance. Wisconsin was efficient in throttling American in the round of 64 and will effectively be playing a home game in Milwaukee.

Pick: Wisconsin.

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MIDWEST

No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 St. Louis (4:45 p.m., CBS): This won't be easy to watch. Both teams play rugged defense and are not afraid to foul. The Cardinals looked like anything but a title contender against No. 13 Manhattan's full-court pressure, but expect them to play exponentially better Saturday. St. Louis rallied from 14 points down to beat N.C. State in overtime, with three starters logging heavy minutes. Tired legs and sketchy offense -- SLU shoots 32 percent from behind the line -- is a poor combination. The Billikens will be hard pressed to hang with the defending champs.

Pick: Louisville.

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Texas (2:15 p.m., CBS): As in the case of Saturday's other No. 2 vs. 7 matchup (Villanova —UConn), the higher seed had an easy time in the second round while the lower seed was pushed to the brink. (Texas needed a buzzer-beater to edge Arizona State.) The Longhorns should pose problems for UM with their size and rebounding, but they aren't sound enough fundamentally -- on either end of the court -- to match the Wolverines down the stretch. UM coach John Beilein against UT's Rick Barnes is a tactical mismatch.

Pick: Michigan.