A look around the East Region ...
What to watch: Tempo. The Cyclones like to go, go, go, and UConn is more content in the half court. Not that the Huskies can’t push, but they may not have the firepower to match Iowa State bucket for bucket. Whoever wins the tempo battle could win the game.
Who to watch: Shabazz Napier versus DeAndre Kane? Yeah, that will work. The two senior point guards have essentially put their teams on their backs in this NCAA tournament, leading not just in scoring but also in rebounding and assists. This might be one of the more entertaining one-on-one battles in the regionals.
Why watch: In just two years, coach Kevin Ollie already has put his stamp on the Huskies, easing them through APR banishment last season and reconfiguring them into an NCAA tourney team this season. A win here would only solidify that this is his team now. Fred Hoiberg, meanwhile, has resurrected his alma mater from ground level, reinvigorating a fan base that was ready to be charged. An Elite Eight berth might turn the Mayor into the Governor.
What to watch: The Spartans as a team might be hard-pressed to score 41 points, let alone Adreian Payne solo, against the defensive-minded Cavaliers. This game will be a rock fight, in which case rebounding will be key. Michigan State ranks 70th nationally in rebounding compared to 140th for the Cavaliers, who squeezed out just one offensive board against a far-less-talented Coastal Carolina team in the round of 64.
Who to watch: Tricky choice because Virginia is such a team-oriented group. But if forced to pick, you have to say it’s the Harrises: Michigan State's Gary Harris and Virginia's Joe Harris. Both are capable of some streaky shooting, and if one gets hot, that could mean ballgame.
Why watch: If there can be such a thing as an underdog No. 1 seed, Virginia is it. Practically no one is talking about the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, the collective thinking is that the Spartans are both woefully underseeded and national title favorites. We’ll see about all of that here.