Here’s an extremely fun sentence to read over and over and over: The round of 32 will, for the first time in NCAA Tournament history (at least on the men’s side), feature a 16-seed. The pesky UMBC Retrievers have already done something unprecedented with their absolute drubbing of Virginia on Friday night, and if they could do that against what came into the Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, anything is possible.
Beyond that, Sunday’s slate of games is going to be absolutely terrific. There are two in-state games, one with a whole bunch of bad blood, and a number of contests that feature intriguing matchups between teams capable of making Final Four runs.
Here’s your watch guide for the fourth day of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. As always, all times are EST.
Game of the Day: No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 16 UMBC (7:45 p.m., truTV)
I mean, this has to be the game of the day, right? A 16-seed is playing a round of 32 game! That’s insane! Until UMBC loses a game, which could very well happen on Sunday evening, it is the must-watch team of the Tournament, because you should always make it a point to witness history.
The crazy thing about this is that the Retrievers went up against a Virginia squad that played slow, possessed a great defense, and was without one of its best offensive players. That can absolutely be the case here, as the Wildcats are 305th nationally in adjusted tempo, 34th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and may not have star big man Dean Wade.
If UMBC is improbably able to keep on dancing, it will be because it follows the same blueprint it did against the Cavaliers. The team has to hit threes, keep their opponent from hitting threes, crash the glass, push the ball up the floor, and most importantly, be able to withstand any potential counter-punch that Kansas State might throw.
If I had to bet on this, I would take the Wildcats, which really did look good against Creighton. Should they get a big game from someone (like freshman guard Mike McGuirl gave them on Friday) in addition to what Barry Brown will do, anyway, they’re a safe bet. But of course, Virginia was also a safe bet against this UMBC squad, and they got rolled, so who knows what’ll happen?