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Originally published March 26, 2014 at 9:03 PM | Page modified March 27, 2014 at 12:05 AM

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What to watch as NCAA tournament reaches Sweet 16


The Associated Press

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Just when you think the first weekend of the NCAA tournament couldn’t possibly top itself, it happened again.

This year’s version was even better, the best weekend on the sports calendar starting with most of the brackets blown out on the first game of the first full day and including a four-point play to send a game to overtime.

Now that we’ve had time to catch our breath, it’s time to hold on tight again with the regional rounds up next.

Here’s some of what to keep an eye on:

The Big Boys

Florida. Gators were the No. 1 overall seed and did nothing to diminish that.

Arizona. That defensive performance against Gonzaga has to be causing some sweaty palms among the other 15 teams still left.

Michigan State. Izzo and the Spartans Storm the Sweet 16, Part XII.

Louisville. Defending national champs on another roll.

Virginia. Cavaliers have proven the ACC sweep and No. 1 seeding were deserved.

The Upstarts

Dayton. Archie Miller has the Flyers flying high, just like big brother Sean’s Arizona Wildcats.

Tennessee. Vols aren’t exactly a mid-major, but they are a bit of a surprise to get this deep after having to sweat out Selection Sunday.

Stanford. See above.

San Diego State. Aztecs appear to be on the verge of a huge breakthrough.

Kentucky. We know, the team with the second-most national titles in history is no upstart, but Coach Cal and his latest crop of NBAers-in-waiting had to claw their way into the bracket after some shaky moments during the regular season.

The Players

Nick Johnson, Arizona. Great two-way player and leader who’s already pulling down All-America honors.

Russ Smith, Louisville. Like Johnson, he’s a finalist for the Naismith Award.

DeAndre Kane, Iowa State. Kane has been the king through the first two rounds of the bracket.

Kyle Anderson, UCLA. A 6-foot-9 point guard who can rebound, score and facilitate.

Shabazz Napier, UConn. A shorter version of Anderson from the East.

Nik Stauskas, Michigan. Best pure shooter left in the bracket.

Top matchups

Kentucky-Louisville, Friday in Indianapolis. The Bluegrass rivals have had some great games in the past. This one could be epic.

Florida-UCLA, Thursday in Memphis. Two power programs at the top of their games.

Baylor-Wisconsin, Thursday in Anaheim, Calif. The clash of styles is going to be fun to watch.

Arizona-San Diego State, Thursday in Anaheim. The Wildcats won an earlier meeting this season. Both teams may be better now.

Notes

Nic Moore made a three-pointer with 6.5 seconds left to lift host Southern Methodist past California 67-65 and into the NIT semifinals. Moore’s shot sent Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown and the Mustangs (26-9) to Madison Square Garden. Jabari Bird scored 20 for California.

Aaron Thomas scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half and Okaro White had 20 points as host Florida State defeated Louisiana Tech 78-75 in an NIT quarterfinal.



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