JON WILNER'S NCAA PREVIEW: SUNDAY'S GAMES
A look at Sunday's third-round games.
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 12 Stephen F Austin (4:10 p.m., TBS): SFA needed a game-tying four-point play to outlast Virginia Commonwealth and now faces an entirely different opponent: The Bruins won't play as fast as VCU, but they're bigger and have one of the nation's most versatile players in 6-foot-9 guard/forward Kyle Anderson. Hard to imagine Anderson (eight points, five turnovers vs. Tulsa) having another substandard showing. Add the super-smooth wing Jordan Adams, and the Bruins have too much talent for the Lumberjacks. Pick: UCLA.
No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 10 Stanford (9:15 a.m., CBS): On the surface, this seems like a daunting, perhaps insurmountable challenge for the Cardinal. The No. 2 seed has the presumptive No. 1 draft pick (Andrew Wiggins) and will be playing in front of a partisan crowd in St. Louis. But KU isn't the same team without center Joel Embiid (back injury). The Jayhawks, who struggled to put away Eastern Kentucky in the second round, are vulnerable up front and don't defend with consistent tenacity. Stanford's perimeter players should find their rhythm early and stay locked in. If the game is tight down the stretch, all the pressure will be on the higher seed. KU has a history -- a recent history -- of belly-flopping early in the tournament.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 8 Memphis (5:40 p.m., TNT): The top seed was out of sorts Friday in its unfamiliar role as a tournament favorite. But the Cavaliers found their mojo just in time to repel pesky No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina. Look for them to be in rhythm from the outset against Memphis, with forward Anthony Gill leading a balanced attack and stout defense. The Tigers edged George Washington in the second round but aren't fundamentally sound enough to stop the Cavs or execute their offense down the stretch. Pick: Virginia.
No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 6 North Carolina (2:15 p.m., CBS): The outlook for this game changed Friday when Iowa State announced forward Georges Niang, its No. 3 scorer (17 ppg), would miss the rest of the tournament with a broken foot suffered in the second-round win over N.C. Central. The Cyclones remain a dangerous team without Niang and are well-coached by Fred Hoiberg. But they'll get all they can handle from the talented Tar Heels. If UNC point guard Marcus Paige is steady at the controls, this will go to the wire. Either way, look for plenty of points: Neither team excels on defense. Pick: Iowa State.
No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 8 Gonzaga (6:40 p.m., TBS): Stacks up as one of the best games of the third round, with Gonzaga's steady perimeter unit matched against Arizona's ferocious defense. The Zags must limit turnovers, take high percentage shots and get skilled forward Sam Dower (1 of 5 against Oklahoma State) involved early. The Wildcats didn't look like a No. 1 seed against Weber State. Then again, they're built to wear opponents down with smothering defense, not overwhelm with polished offense. The Wildcats are wobbly from the foul line, which could be an issue if it's close down the stretch. Pick: Arizona.
No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 6 Creighton (4:40 p.m., truTV): Baylor turned in one of the most impressive performances of the second round, dominating Nebraska and putting four players in double figures. Its athleticism will be problematic for Creighton and the wondrous Doug McDermott, who had 30 points against Louisiana Lafayette. Of far greater significance to the Bluejays' tournament prospects was the play of forward Ethan Wragge and guard Austin Chatman, who combined for 28. They'll need a repeat for Creighton to advance. Pick: Baylor.
No. 1 Wichita State vs. No. 8 Kentucky (11:45 a.m., CBS): The most-anticipated game of the day is a reversal of roles: The top-seeded Shockers are a superb team, more than the sum of their parts. The lower-seeded Wildcats are supremely talented but don't always function as one and are prone to periods of inconsistency. Big Blue has the playmakers to beat the Shockers (35-0) and was stingy on defense against Kansas State in the second round, but any lapse in focus or execution could be decisive against an opponent that won't beat itself. Pick: Kentucky.
No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Mercer (3:10 p.m., TNT): The only third-round game featuring two double-digit seeds should not be close: In addition to the difficult challenge of refocusing after the upset of Duke, upstart Mercer will likely be without injured center Monty Brown (concussion). That's a problem when facing a front line of Tennessee' power: Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon combined for 27 points and 25 rebounds in the win over UMass. The Vols are sizzling, and bound for the Sweet 16. Pick: Tennessee.
-- JON WILNER