Kansas State's Rodney McGruder warms up during a team practice session… (Keith Srakocic / Associated…)
No. 8 Kansas State (21-10) vs. No. 9 Southern Mississippi (25-8) at Pittsburgh, 9:30 a.m. PDT, truTV: Neither team offers a great offense, so expect a lot of defense and physical play. Both teams do a good job forcing turnovers. Expect Southern Mississippi to focus on slowing Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder. If he is stymied, the Golden Eagles' chances get better.
No. 4 Wisconsin (24-9) vs. No. 13 Montana (25-6) at Albuquerque, 11 a.m., TNT: Montana has won 20 of its last 21 games, but the Grizzlies need to shoot well from the outside to advance against Wisconsin. The Badgers' perimeter defense has been excellent, and Montana can't rely on its inside game. Wisconsin has committed the fewest turnovers in the nation. Watch the point guard duel between the Badgers' Jordan Taylor and Montana's Will Cherry.
No. 1 Syracuse (31-2) vs. No. 16 North Carolina Asheville (24-9) at Pittsburgh, noon, truTV: Syracuse won't have center Fab Melo, who has been declared ineligible, but it shouldn't matter in this one. Asheville guards Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm can score from three-point range, but the Bulldogs probably don't have enough athletes or firepower to hang with Syracuse for more than a half.
No. 5 Vanderbilt (24-10) vs. No. 12 Harvard (26-4) at Albuquerque, 1:30 p.m., TNT: Welcome to the "Brain Bowl." Vanderbilt opened the season in the top 10 but underachieved before winning the Southeastern Conference tournament by beating top-ranked Kentucky. The Commodores have all the required components for a deep tournament run -- athletic big men, good three-point shooters and an explosive slasher in forward Jeffery Taylor. Harvard must get production from forwards Kyle Casey and Keith Wright.
No. 7 Gonzaga (25-6) vs. No. 10 West Virginia (19-13) at Pittsburgh, 4:15 p.m., TNT: Gonzaga is playing across the country; West Virginia is playing about an hour from its campus. West Virginia's Kevin Jones is the only player in the nation averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds. Gonzaga big men Elias Harris and Robert Sacre will have to handle him. Gonzaga would much rather see Mountaineers point guard Daryl Bryant shoot from the perimeter than the ball in Jones' hands.
No. 2 Ohio State (27-7) vs. No. 15 Loyola (Md.) (24-8) at Pittsburgh, 6:45 p.m., TNT: Loyola sometimes has trouble scoring and can be sloppy with the ball. If Ohio State focuses on getting the ball to Jared Sullinger -- sometimes the easiest thing is forgotten -- the Buckeyes should roll. The coaches are worth watching: Ohio State's Thad Matta is animated on the sideline but is a block of granite compared with Loyola's Jimmy Patsos, who is likely to sweat through his coat in the first three minutes.
No. 6 Murray State (30-1) vs. No. 11 Colorado State (20-11) at Louisville, Ky., 9:15 a.m., Channel 2: Murray State has the nation's best record thanks to an aggressive defense and a solid offense that is proficient from three-point range. Isaiah Canaan gives the Racers a top guard. Murray State lacks size, but Colorado State isn't big either. The Rams need a good game from guard Wes Eikmeier.
No. 4 Louisville (26-9) vs. No. 13 Davidson (25-7) at Portland, Ore., 10:30 a.m., TBS: Davidson won at Kansas this season and could be a problem for Louisville if it shoots better than its season average of 33.9% from three-point range. The Wildcats also need production from center Jake Cohen and forward De'Mon Brooks, whose work inside could result in some open looks on the perimeter. Louisville needs guard Peyton Siva to get into the lane and create havoc.
No. 3 Marquette (25-7) vs. No. 14 Brigham Young (26-8) at Louisville, Ky., 11:45 a.m., Channel 2: BYU rallied from a 25-point deficit to defeat Iona in a play-in game. The Cougars are solid on offense, and although questionable on defense could present Marquette problems with rebounding. Like Iona, Marquette has better athletes. And the Golden Eagles also play much better defense than Iona.
No. 5 New Mexico (27-6) vs. No. 12 Long Beach State (25-8) at Portland, Ore., 1 p.m., TBS: Long Beach State is senior-laden, battled-tested and, in guard Casper Ware, has one of the most underrated players in the nation. New Mexico is a physical group that will be looking to exploit its size advantage. How the Lobos handled Long Beach's backcourt quickness will be key.
No. 1 Kentucky (32-2) vs. No. 16 Western Kentucky (16-18) at Louisville, Ky., 3:45 p.m., TBS: Kentucky is a 25-point favorite. Western Kentucky advanced by rallying from a 16-point deficit in the final five minutes to defeat Mississippi Valley State, 59-58, in a play-in game.