So the first day of the NCAA Tournament was pretty awesome, no? We had some absolutely insane games, like Loyola-Chicago knocking down what was basically a buzzer-beater to defeat Miami, Rhode Island and Oklahoma playing a barnburner that the Rams won in overtime, and Rob Gray was out of his mind in Houston’s win over San Diego State. Oh, and Arizona got knocked out after Buffalo decided to shoot (and make) a million threes en route to a 21-point win.
Day Two of the 2018 Tournament doesn’t seem to be as prone to games going completely insane, but save for the 1-16 matchups that are usually blowouts, it’s a really strong day top to bottom. What should you watch? Well, that’s where we come in.
Let’s all enjoy some hoops, and you can follow along with games via our watch guide for the day. All times listed are EST.
Game of the Day: No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Butler (3:10 p.m., truTV)
Sometimes, the most important thing in a college basketball game is making your opponent play the way you want to play. Some teams want to push the ball. Others want to be more meticulous and work for the best possible shot. When a team that does the former meets the team that does the latter, the winner is usually the team that can figure out a way to dictate the way a game is played and make their opponent uncomfortable.
An example of this will come on Friday when Arkansas and Butler face off. The 23-win Razorbacks like to get up-and-down, coming in 30th nationally in average offensive possession length and 92nd adjusted tempo, per KenPom. The 20-win Bulldogs, meanwhile, are far more balanced, coming in 159th in average offensive possession length and 191st in adjusted tempo.
LaVall Jordan try to have his team settle things down while Mike Anderson inspires his team to take off will be fascinating. As for what will make the difference, well, an Arkansas fan might point to their marksmen from downtown (40.1 percent from three, 12th nationally), their veteran backcourt duo of Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon, or freakishly talented center Daniel Gafford. A Butler fan will point to their two-headed monster Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin, along with the fact that they’re a top-30 team in KenPom despite their double-digit seed.
On a day where there are no games that look truly outstanding, this one should be the best of a very good slate of matchups.
Watch these games, too
No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Providence (12:15 p.m., CBS): When the Aggies are healthy and locked in, they’re a team that can make a run. When they’re not, well, a team like Providence can beat them. The Friars are tough as nails, led by the frontcourt pairing of Rodney Bullock and Alpha Diallo with a slippery point guard in Kyron Cartwright. If any of the Aggies’ potential NBA players — Tyler Davis, D.J. Hogg, and Robert Williams — get hot, though, look out.