TIME College football

USC AD Pat Haden: Documents Confirm NCAA Sanctions Unfair

USC Trojans Athletic Director Haden stands on the sidelines during the NCAA football game against the Hawaii Warriors in Los Angeles
Danny Moloshok—Reuters Pat Haden stands on the sidelines during the NCAA football game against the Hawaii Warriors in Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2012

USC athletic director Pat Haden says private emails between NCAA committee on infractions members that were made public as part of a lawsuit filed by former Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair confirm the school was treated unfairly in the NCAA’s handling of the Reggie Bush case.

The NCAA released almost 500 pages of documents on Tuesday after losing a court battle to keep them sealed. The documents relate to McNair’s defamation suit against the NCAA.

“I think these documents are cause for concern about the NCAA’s own institutional controls,” Haden said Wednesday in a statement. “It should be concerning to all schools that the NCAA didn’t appear to follow its own rules.”

The NCAA investigated the school to determine whether Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo received improper benefits and whether USC coaches knew about the players’ violations.

USC’s football program received a postseason ban, lost 30 scholarships and was forced to vacate 14 victories in which Bush played from December 2004 through Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy winning season after NCAA investigators concluded that Bush and his family received cash and gifts from sports marketers in 2004 and 2005.

“We are extremely disappointed and dismayed at the way the NCAA investigated, judged and penalized our university throughout this process,” Haden said. “USC hopes that the transparency in this case will ultimately lead to review and changes so that all member institutions receive the fair and impartial treatment they deserve.”

The investigative report also criticized McNair, slapping him with a one-year “show-cause penalty” prohibiting him from recruiting and other sanctions.

McNair sued the NCAA in June 2011, saying the NCAA investigation was one-sided and seeks unspecified damages for libel, slander and breach of contract. McNair’s contract was not renewed by the school after the show-cause penalty was handed down.

The NCAA said McNair lied about his knowledge of extra benefits being provided to Bush and his family.

In the unsealed documents, the NCAA criticized the school for hiring Lane Kiffin as its head coach. Kiffin, now the offensive coordinator at Alabama, was the coordinator of the USC offense while Bush was playing.

“Lack of institutional control … (and do we add the hiring of Lane Kiffin?), is a very easy call for me,” committee member Roscoe Howard wrote.

NCAA committee member Rodney Uphoff also compared the evidence against McNair to the case surrounding the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. Uphoff said the case against McNair was stronger than that against Terry Nichols, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the bombing.

This story originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College Basketball

Notre Dame Beats Wichita State for Spot in Elite Eight

Zach Auguste #30 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dunks in the second half against Rashard Kelly #0 and Darius Carter #12 of the Wichita State Shockers during the Midwest Regional semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 26, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Gregory Shamus—Getty Images Zach Auguste #30 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dunks in the second half against Rashard Kelly #0 and Darius Carter #12 of the Wichita State Shockers during the Midwest Regional semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 26, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.

This marks the first time Notre Dame has reached the Elite Eight since 1979

The most intriguing matchup of the Sweet 16 didn’t live up to its billing. Notre Dame shot 56% from the field and 47% from three-point range Thursday in beating Wichita State, 81-70, to earn a spot in the Elite Eight.

While Wichita State didn’t get much offensive production from players not named VanVleet or Carter, it lost this game on the other end of the floor. Despite rating out as one of the better defensive teams remaining in the field, the Shockers simply could not slow down Notre Dame’s high-powered offense. To wit: the Irish rang up roughly 1.25 points per possession.

The first five minutes hinted at the outcome of the game. Notre Dame opened with a flourish, opening up a 13-point lead thanks to a trio of three-point shots from guards Demetrius Jackson and Pat Connaughton and two-point field goals from center Zach Auguste. The Irish’s third-ranked efficiency offense had ignited, and Wichita State seemingly had no means to stop it.

The Shockers quickly found their bearings and began narrowing Notre Dame’s deficit. After a layup from Auguste around the 15-minute mark, Wichita State ripped off a 9-2 run. Then Shockers guard Ron Baker drilled a three-point shot to slice the deficit to six and, about a minute later, hit another trey to make it a one-possession game.

Notre Dame weathered Wichita State’s charge, and a Connaughton jumper at the 3:40 mark put the Irish up by eight points. But the Shockers finished the half on a strong note, with guard Fred VanVleet scoring seven points over the final three and a half minutes.

VanVleet and forward Darius Carter helped the Shockers take their first lead (38-37) of the game early in the second half. After Notre Dame’s Jackson and Steve Vasturia scored a jump shot and a layup to give the Irish a five-point lead, Carter maneuvered inside for two two-point buckets and VanVleet knocked down a pair of free throws.

Notre Dame answered decisively. In the next two-plus minutes, the Irish showed why they boast the nation’s third most efficient offense. Jackson drained two threes and converted a layup, Vasturia buried a trey of his own, and guard Jerian Grant and forward Bonzie Colson finished layups. When the run ended, Notre Dame led by eight and seemed on track for a comfortable win.

Another offensive onslaught a few minutes later effectively sealed the game. Grant sank a three, Auguste connected on two two-point field goals, Vasturia and Connaughton also converted from downtown and Jackson made two free throws to put Notre Dame up 19.

This marks the first time Notre Dame has reached the Elite Eight since 1979. The Irish have now won 32 games this season, the second most in program history. Meanwhile, this is the fourth consecutive year Wichita State has reached the tournament, and the third consecutive year in which it has won at least one game.

As impressive as it was for Notre Dame to pull through against a Wichita State team that ranked among the nation’s top 20 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, don’t expect the Irish to advance to the Final Four. Barring a massive upset on Thursday night at the hands of No. 5 seed West Virginia, Kentucky will meet Notre Dame in the Elite Eight.

The question of whether the Irish are a good or bad matchup for the Wildcats misses the point, because there is no team that matches up well against Kentucky.

It’s disappointing that Wichita State won’t get an opportunity to face the Wildcats. While the Shockers may not have been able to beat the Wildcats, anyone who watched the two teams play a thrilling game in the Round of 32 last season would have welcomed a rematch.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College Basketball

North Carolina Coach Sends $200 Check to All of His Former Players in His Will

In this Dec. 8, 2006 photo, former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith answers questions during a press conference in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Gerry Broome—AP In this Dec. 8, 2006 photo, former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith answers questions during a press conference in Chapel Hill, N.C.

For a dinner out to remember

Late North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, who died last month, willed his trust to send $200 to each player who lettered under him, Tim Breedlove, who wrote the letter, confirmed to SI.com.

Smith died at 83 on Feb. 7 at his North Carolina home. He coached for 36 years at UNC, winning 879 games and two NCAA championships.

In the letter Smith’s former players received from Miller McNeish & Breedlove, PA, it was revealed that Smith requested each of his former players be sent a $200 check with the message, “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.” The enclosed checks also included the notation, “Dinner out.”

By SI‘s count, Smith coached 184 players from 1961 to 1997.

(H/t @ChestPassDemps)

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME College Basketball

West Virginia Gets Cocky Before March Madness Game Against Undefeated Kentucky

Dayton v Oklahoma
Jamie Sabau—Getty Images Daxter Miles Jr. #4 of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts after dunking the ball during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 22, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

"They're going to be 36-1," a WVU freshman says

West Virginia freshman Daxter Miles Jr. made a bold prediction to the media on Wednesday when he guaranteed that his team would beat undefeated Kentucky in their sweet 16 matchup Thursday night.

“[I] salute them to getting to 36-0. But tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1,” Miles declared out of either confidence or hubris.“They should be more intimidated. Because they’re the ones who have the high standard, and we’re coming for them.” He went on to say the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to pass the ball under the Mountaineers’ press.

West Virginia, a 5 seed , has just a 13% chance of snapping 1 seed Kentucky’s streak, according to Nate Silver’s predictions at FiveThirtyEight. And bettors have the Wildcats as a 13-point favorite over the Mountaineers.

Even West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was careful to hedge Miles’ claims. “I don’t know,” he said when asked if the press could stop Kentucky. “I hope so. It’s going to be a long day for us if we can’t.”

But who knows. With Miles’ conviction, March Madness could just get that mad. Kentucky and WVU play on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

[ESPN]

TIME apps

Crush Your Fantasy Draft With These 9 Baseball Apps

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Seven
Jamie Squire—Getty Images The San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tap into some Moneyball-level sabermetrics with only your smartphone

It might not look like baseball season yet depending on where you live, but Spring Training is about to wrap up, which means the boys of summer will soon be headed north.That means fans are hunkering down in their basements for their fantasy baseball draft.

But rather than lugging a laptop and piles of rotisserie guides to the big event, download some of these apps to your tablet or smartphone instead. Designed from the ground up to help you build a powerhouse fantasy franchise, they’re all you need to dominate your league this year.

DraftValet

Behind every great manager, there’s a great bench coach, whispering sage advice into their ear. But if you don’t have a real-world guru to turn to, this app offers a network of experts to tap for advice. DraftValet starts off by asking for details about your league and team, and then lets you ask anything you please, like which starter would be better in a head-to-head matchup, or what position players would DraftValet’s experts stick with in a keeper league. You can also browse other users’ questions and keep an eye out for trending topics — an important feature for sniffing out up-and-coming players and sleeper picks.

DraftValet is available for free on the App Store.

FantasyPros Mock Draft

Practice makes perfect, and with this simulator you’ll be plenty ready to pick a winner come draft day. Simply plug in your league’s variables, including the amount of teams, draft position, and roster settings (which includes the default modes for CBS, ESPN, and National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues), and the app breaks down likely scenarios.

An easy-to-access cheat sheet pulls up players’ numbers from last year, their average stats from the previous three seasons, and a 2015 projection, giving you quality information to make your picks. And the app’s artificial intelligence works blazingly fast, which gives you more time to make your own selections, and ample opportunity to hone your draft strategies over and over.

FantasyPros Mock Draft is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MLB.com At Bat

Get a steady stream of baseball news, stats, and scores straight from the tap with Major League Baseball’s official app. While it’s free to download, the league has several different ways of getting in your wallet, all depending on how connected to the game you want to be. But to get the most breaking news of on- and off-the-field action, no other app out-pitches this ace. With scores, news, and stats aplenty, it is a must-download for fantasy fans and baseball buffs alike. And with paid subscriptions you can also listen to or watch live game broadcasts — something the saltiest of scouts do everyday, so you should, too.

MLB.com At Bat is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MLB PrePlay

For the pros and fantasy players alike, Major League Baseball’s 162-game regular season is a big commitment, if not a full-on slog. If you don’t have time to dedicate to engaging in a full-on fantasy league, this prediction-based game is a great backup. Pitting you 1-on-1 with a real-life opponent, one inning at a time, Preplay is all about predicting the next play. So if you’re the kind of fan who likes to call the action before it happens, this app is a great second-screen companion. And with weekly challenges and power-ups, there’s plenty to keep the game interesting, even if it’s moving slow on the field.

MLB PrePlay is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MiLB First Pitch

If you want to catch the next star before he’s even been given a locker with the pros, download this little brother to MLB.com At Bat. A free app that covers at least 160 minor league squads, MiLB First Pitch features a steady feed of scores, news, and stats that’s nearly identical to the big league app (in more ways than one — so be prepared to pay for access to the service’s higher-tier offerings, like video streams of live and on-demand games). Still, with intense coverage of the minors, this is the most in-depth way to follow prospects before you add them to your fantasy team.

MLB.com At Bat is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

OwnersBox

Designed specifically for fantasy sports fanatics, OwnersBox is a high-powered scout in your pocket, keeping tabs on all your players. With a highly customizable notifications system, the app can send you an alert when one of your player makes news, gets injured, or even every time he is about to dig into the batter’s box. OwnersBox also has a comprehensive list of reports that can help you find hot players and dump cold ones. These reports drill down into nearly every statistic going, ideal if you’re in a league that scores using a variety of categories. And when October comes, OwnersBox is still a keeper, because with NFL, NBA, and NHL stats, it’s a four-sport fantasy tool.

OwnersBox is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups by RotoBaller

With daily-updated analysis, RotoBaller’s app breaks down individual players not just from a historic, statistical perspective, but also by looking at the business realities and lineups around them, providing position-by-position insight on draft day sleepers. In addition, the app tells you which rounds you should consider drafting these players, because there’s nothing more amateurish than going all-in on a fringe player early in your draft. And then, once you get your team in shape, the app is great for browsing to fill out the holes in your lineup.

RotoBaller is available for free on the App Store.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit 2015

Forget your blank roster sheets, notebooks, or even those custom-made Excel spreadsheets you’ve been using for ages. This app, compatible with both smartphones and tablets, is designed to take the bulk out of your research — and better yet, it dynamically adjusts to your league settings and the players currently available. Featuring projections for 2015 statistics, but able to import the settings of your 2014 league (great for dynasty leagues), the Draft Kit provides projected dollar values for player auctions, as well as recent news and analysis. And with an improved interface over previous Rotowire Draft Kits, now you can just swipe players from your cheat sheet onto the teams that landed them — a huge draft day time saver.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit 2015 is available for $7.99 on the App Store and $4.99 on Google Play.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Assistant 2015

Compatible with both iPhones and iPads, this hub of rotisserie baseball activity will let you import your league from various services, including ESPN and Yahoo, to keep tabs on your players with stat leaderboards, daily lineups, player rankings, and more. The app’s personalized section is also a great place to follow your players’ news, or manage watch lists for players that you’re thinking of adding. And the app also comes with access to the solid RotoWire research, which is otherwise blocked off unless you have a subscription to the website.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Assistant 2015 is available for $9.99 on the App Store.

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TIME hockey

Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss NHL Concussion Lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson allowed the case launched by league players to proceed

A federal judge in Minnesota has thrown out the NHL’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that claims the body inadequately informed players of the health risks caused by concussions despite having ample knowledge and resources.

The plaintiffs are seeking a financial settlement for the “pathological and debilitating effects of brain injuries caused by concussive and sub-concussive impacts sustained … during their professional careers,” according to court documents.

The NHL argued that the case was pre-empted by the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which created a six-year statute of limitations on the case. They also argued additional jurisdiction claims. U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson rejected those challenges.

“Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that they may not have been aware that they had suffered an injury — or the possibility of injury — while they were playing in the NHL,” she wrote in her judgement.

In response, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a statement reported by the Associated Press. “While we would have hoped for a different result on this motion, we understand that the case is at a relatively early stage, and there will be ample opportunity for us to establish our defenses as the discovery process progresses,” he said

As implied in the statement, the ruling does not mean the players have won the lawsuit, but rather that they can move forward with the litigation.

The players suing the NHL are Dan Lacouture, Michael Peluso, Gary Leeman, Bernie Nicholls, David Christian and Reed Larsen.

Read next: This NHL Player Got Traded After His Daughter Made a Written Plea

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TIME Television

Watch UFC Champ Ronda Rousey Do Her Trademark ‘Armbar’ on Jimmy Fallon

“They call you the arm collector”

UFC star Ronda Rousey was a guest on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show Tuesday and the late-night host asked her to demonstrate her infamous armbar hold on him.

“They call you the arm collector,” he says to the UFC bantamweight titleholder. “Because you almost snap people’s arms in half when you’re fighting.”

A very nervous Fallon then chooses a safety word and holds his arm out for Rousey to “safely” show off her MMA maneuver, known in judo as a jūji-gatame.

She then pushes Fallon’s arm back, forcing him to tap out.

Rousey was chatting with Fallon about her upcoming autobiography and her acting roles in Fast and Furious 7 and Entourage.

Read next: Why UFC Champion Ronda Rousey Won’t Fight a Man

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TIME College Basketball

This Map Shows Which Sweet 16 Teams Are Generating Buzz Around the Country

The most talked-about teams on Facebook
Facebook The most talked-about teams on Facebook.

Kentucky has coast-to-coast support

While you’ve been keeping close tabs on your office March Madness pool, Facebook has combed through more than 32 million posts, likes and comments about the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament to find out which Sweet Sixteen teams have captured the conversation (or your trash-talking) between March 15-23.

Much of the chatter is regional—it’s no surprise, for example, that Wichita State has every county in Kansas talking and typing—but Facebook’s color-coded visualization shows the extent of coast-to-coast support for Kentucky, which is currently favored to win.

Read More: Now That Your Bracket’s Busted, Here’s Who to Cheer for in the Sweet 16

TIME College Basketball

Now That Your Bracket’s Busted, Here’s Who to Cheer for in the Sweet 16

Pros and cons for each team

So your bracket’s already busted, and you don’t have any chance of winning your office pool. Maybe you’re going to take your chances betting on single games or maybe you just need to pick a new team to cheer for this week. Either way, TIME’s got you covered. Here are all the reasons to root for (or against) all 16 teams that made it to the regionals.

  • Kentucky (#1)

    NCAA Tournament: Cincinnati vs. Kentucky
    Lexington Herald-Leader—TNS via Getty Images Kentucky's Andrew Harrison (5) drives in for the basket and a foul as the Wildcats defeated Cincinnati, 64-51, in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 21, 2015, at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. (Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)

    Pros: Let’s face it, if you pick Kentucky to win, you’ll probably be right. The team is well on its way to going undefeated. Some talking heads are even suggesting that the roster could make the Eastern Conference playoffs in the NBA. If Kentucky succeeds, they will become the first team since Bobby Knight’s 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to have a perfect season.

    Cons: There’s a reason you root for Jack against the Giant. A perfect record is impressive, but it’s less fun than an upset. Plus rooting for John Calipari? That’s a tough proposition for most basketball fans.

    Kentucky (#1) plays West Virginia (#5) on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

  • West Virginia (#8)

    West Virginia v Maryland
    Jamie Sabau—Getty Images Jevon Carter #2 of the West Virginia Mountaineers controls the ball against the Maryland Terrapins during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 22, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

    Pros: West Virginia has had a big turnaround season after missing the tournament two years in a row. They’re scrappy: they play full court D for all 40 minutes, scramble in and out of traps and force turnovers. And don’t forget: they stole an Elite Eight game from a seemingly unbeatable Kentucky team in 2010.

    Cons: If WVU doesn’t get turnovers, they’re not scoring. If they’re not scoring, they’re just another stepping stone on Kentucky’s road to the championship.

    West Virginia (#5) plays Kentucky (#1) on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

  • Notre Dame (#3)

    Butler v Notre Dame
    Jared Wickerham—Getty Images Demetrius Jackson #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a turnover against the Butler Bulldogs in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

    Pros: Going into the tournament, they were criticized as a team that didn’t hustle enough. But now they’ve proven that they can get scrappy. In their first two games they went only 8-for-26 beyond the arc and were forced to pull off tough wins (one in overtime). Before the tournament, they beat Duke, UNC and Louisville—all Sweet 16 teams. Maybe they’re capable of more than pundits thought.

    Cons: Wichita is anything but your average 7 seed, and most bettors have them beating Notre Dame. The luck of the Irish may run out this week.

    Notre Dame (#3) plays Wichita State (#7) on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. EST.

  • Wichita State (#7)

    Fred VanVleet of the Wichita State Shockers celebrates as the second half ends against the Kansas Jayhawks during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on March 22, 2015.
    Jamie Squire–Getty Images Fred VanVleet of the Wichita State Shockers celebrates as the second half ends against the Kansas Jayhawks during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on March 22, 2015.

    Pros: Beating Kansas was a sweet victory for Wichita State. The Shockers have tried to schedule a game against in-state rival the Jayhawks for years (the last time they played one another was 1993), but Kansas has always refused. And no wonder, considering Wichita’s 78-65 victory on Sunday. Full of confidence, Wichita State will likely roll past Notre Dame and on to the Wildcats. Kentucky ended the Shockers’ perfect season in 2014, and Wichita is probably ready to return the favor.

    Cons: The Shockeres are heavily dependent on their star Fred VanVleet. If he has a bad night, Wichita is in trouble. Plus, the team was extra-motivated to knock Kansas out of the tournament. They could lose steam.

    Wichita State (#7) plays Notre Dame (#3) on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. EST.

  • Wisconsin (#1)

    Frank Kaminsky of the Wisconsin Badgers shoots against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the second half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on March 20, 2015.
    Ronald Martinez–Getty Images Frank Kaminsky of the Wisconsin Badgers shoots against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the second half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on March 20, 2015.

    Pros: Wisconsin’s victory against Oregon proved that they don’t just rely on their star player. When Frank Kaminsky got shut down for parts of the game, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes took over, pushing the Badgers to a victory. Wisconsin has one of (if not the most) efficient offense in the country and is an odds-on favorites to make it to the Final Four.

    Cons: The Badgers arguably have the toughest road of the remaining 1 seeds to the Final Four. UNC coach Roy Williams is a veteran who knows how to effectively stop all-stars like Kaminsky. And even if they do beat the Tar Heels, an under-seeded Arizona will be waiting for them.

    Wisconsin (#1) plays UNC (#4) on Thursday at 7:47 p.m. EST.

  • UNC (#4)

    during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.
    Kevin C. Cox—2015 Getty Images Marcus Paige #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels puts up a shot as he is defended by Manuale Watkins #21 of the Arkansas Razorbacks in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.

    Pros: UNC has the athleticism to be a great team, even if they haven’t played to their full potential yet. They’ve been playing better defense during the tournament, and against Arkansas, Marcus Paige finally played the way he should have been during the regular season. If UNC can beat Wisconsin, it will be on the glass—they rank fifth nationally for offensive rebounds.

    Cons: The Tarheels have been, to put it kindly, inconsistent in high-pressure games this year. They turn over the ball too much. It’s hard to imagine they can beat both Wisconsin and Arizona.

    UNC (#4) plays Wisconsin (#1) on Thursday at 7:47 p.m. EST.

  • Xavier (#6)

    Xavier v Georgia State
    Kevin C. Cox—Getty Images Myles Davis #15 of the Xavier Musketeers reacts to a three-point basket against the Georgia State Panthers in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    Pros: Don’t underrate Xavier, the last Big East team in the tournament. Matt Stainbrook is a quality big man who could shake up the game against Arizona. And the team has been gaining steam throughout the end of their season.

    Cons: Xavier had an easy road to the Sweet 16. They’re not a very good shooting team, and if anybody can shut down Stainbrook, it’s a bigger squad like Arizona. Plus, Xavier ended Georgia State’s Cinderella run, and we’re all still a little bitter.

    Xavier (#6) plays Arizona (#2) on Thursday at 10:17 p.m. EST.

  • Arizona (#2)

    T.J. McConnell of the Arizona Wildcats and D'Angelo Russell of the Ohio State Buckeyes vie for a loose ball in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center in Portland, Ore. on March 21, 2015.
    Jonathan Ferrey–Getty Images T.J. McConnell of the Arizona Wildcats and D'Angelo Russell of the Ohio State Buckeyes vie for a loose ball in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center in Portland, Ore. on March 21, 2015.

    Pros: Arizona should have been a 1 seed, and they won’t let you forget it. They’re in the top 10 in the nation in both defensive and offensive efficiency (just like Kentucky), and wings Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will likely both be first-round NBA draft picks. Plus, their defense is excellent.

    Cons: Occasionally, Arizona can go long stretches without scoring and they don’t have the depth to save them during a drought.

    Arizona (#2) plays Xavier (#6) on Thursday at 10:17 p.m. EST.

  • North Carolina State (#8)

    NC State v Villanova
    Justin K. Aller—Getty Images Anthony Barber #12 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drives to the basket against Daniel Ochefu #23 of the Villanova Wildcats during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    Pros: If you want to root for a giantkiller, the Wolfpack is your team. They pulled off the biggest upset of this tournament by knocking out No. 1 Villanova and took down fellow Sweet 16 teams UNC and Duke earlier this year. Trevor Lacey and Anthony Barber had a combined 30 points against Nova. It’s hard not to root for the duo to pull that off again.

    Cons: Even though the N.C. State has Vegas worried about potential future upsets, the 8 seed is in danger of becoming overly confident. (See: Cat Barber’s “What the f— is wrong with Barack Obama?” comment.) Even if they beat Louisville, they’ll eventually meet Duke or Gonzaga, and those teams are going to be harder to take down than Villanova.

    N.C. State (#8) plays Louisville (#4) on Friday at 7:37 p.m. EST.

  • Louisville (#4)

    Northern Iowa v Louisville
    Otto Greule Jr—Getty Images Terry Rozier #0 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball in the first half of the game against the Northern Iowa Panthers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyArena on March 22, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.

    Pros: Louisville prepared for the tournament with a tough ACC slate (five of the sweet 16 teams are from the ACC). This is the fourth year in a row that the Cardinals have made it to the Sweet 16, and though this isn’t their best team in recent memory, they’ve refused to give up. Their tough defense will be a challenge for N.C. State.

    Cons: Coach Rick Pitino has been brutally honest about the team’s flaws, admitting that conflicting personalities have made them hard to coach. Their starting point guard Chris Jones was dismissed from the team late in the season, and they’ve had a hard time recovering since—including struggling against UC Irvine in the opening game of the tournament. Louisville was bested by N.C. State (74-65) in February, so despite its higher seeding Louisville is probably the underdog headed into this game.

    Louisville (#4) plays N.C. State (#8) on Friday at 7:37 p.m. EST.

  • Oklahoma (#3)

    Jamie Sabau—2015 Getty Images Buddy Hield #24 of the Oklahoma Sooners controls the ball against the Dayton Flyers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 22, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

    Pros: If Big 12 player of the year Buddy Hield produces this week, Oklahoma could take the East Region, which blew wide open with No. 1 Villanova and No.2 UVA both fell. Oklahoma is the top seed left and therefore, in theory, the best bet.

    Cons: Michigan State’s physical defense could mean big trouble for the Sooners. MSU Coach Tom Izzo’s favorite month is March, so this will likely be a very tight game.

    Oklahoma (#3) plays MSU (#7) on Friday at 10:07 p.m. EST.

  • Michigan State (#7)

    during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
    Bob Leverone—2015 Getty Images Travis Trice #20 of the Michigan State Spartans drives to the basket against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Pros: Remember last year when 7 seed UConn won the national championship? It looks like Michigan State just might follow in their footsteps. Coach Tom Izzo’s teams historically play their best in March, and this Spartans squad is no exception. They almost defeated Wisconsin in the Big Ten Conference Championship and upset 2 seed Virginia last week. Plus, they’ve got the support of alumnus Magic Johnson. What’s more inspirational than that?

    Cons: Even though the Spartans are now favored to reach the Final Four, their path isn’t completely clear. N.C. State, Louisville and Oklahoma are all gunning for the same spot and will put up a tough fight.

    MSU (#7) plays Oklahoma (#3) on Friday at 10:07 p.m. EST.

  • Duke (#1)

    Duke vs. San Diego State
    Raleigh News & Observer—TNS via Getty Images Duke center Jahlil Okafor (15) blocks a second half shot by San Diego State forward Winston Shepard (13) on Sunday, March 22, 2015, at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C.

    Pros: I know, I know. Duke is the (blue) devil incarnate. You hate Coach K. You hate the Cameron Crazies. You hate that the I Hate Christian Laettner 30 for 30 documentary somehow made Laettner likable and got him in commercials with Dr. J. But even though Christian Laettner did this, remember when he also did this—the most memorable buzzer beater in all college basketball history? Duke (and Laettner) ruined UNLV’s perfect season. Could they do the same for Kentucky? With a likely #1 NBA draft pick in the dominant Jahlil Okafor, they just might.

    Cons: Okafor has had trouble hitting free throws all season. If Duke fails to maker threes (as it did when Notre Dame upset it in the ACC Tournament), the Blue Devils could lose a close game at the free throw line.

    Duke (#1) plays Utah (#5) on Friday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

  • Utah (#5)

    Brandon Taylor of the Utah Utes reacts in the second half against the Georgetown Hoyas during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center in Portland, Ore. March 21, 2015.
    Stephen Dunn–Getty Images Brandon Taylor of the Utah Utes reacts in the second half against the Georgetown Hoyas during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center in Portland, Ore. March 21, 2015.

    Pros: The Utes’ 7 foot center Jakob Poeltl is one of few players in the tournament who can measure up size-wise to Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Utah plays good help defense and may be able to shut down the Blue Devil’s big man.

    Cons: Utah is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 and likely won’t be prepared to take down a 1 seed.

    Utah (#5) plays Duke (#1) on Friday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

  • UCLA (#11)

    Bryce Alford of the UCLA Bruins runs down the court against the UAB Blazers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Ky. on March 21, 2015.
    Joe Robbins–Getty Images Bryce Alford of the UCLA Bruins runs down the court against the UAB Blazers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Ky. on March 21, 2015.

    Pros: A vote for UCLA is a vote for the underdog. Widely dubbed the team that shouldn’t have even made the tournament, UCLA has been playing like they have something to prove. Now they’re the only double-digit seed left in the bracket. UCLA won their first two games sinking threes, and if they can continue that trend, they’ll prove that they came to dance.

    Cons: Then again, if those threes don’t fall, the Bruins are in big trouble. The big criticism of UCLA is that they play as individuals, not a team. If they don’t come together, their run it over.

    UCLA (#11) plays Gonzaga (#2) on Friday at 7:15 p.m. EST.

  • Gonzaga (#2)

    Iowa v Gonzaga
    Otto Greule Jr—Getty Images Kyle Wiltjer #33 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after a three point shot in the first half of the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyArena on March 22, 2015 in Seattle, Washington

    Pros: This is arguably the best team that Coach Mark Few has put together—including the 2013 1 seed squad. The Zags’ impressive 52.6 field goal percentage means that they’re going to be hard to stop offensively, and their bench is deep. They won easily on Sunday against Iowa, and the elimination of Iowa State makes their path all the easier.

    Cons: Gonzaga has a history of choking in the tournament. They were knocked out early in 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2013, they were upset as a 3 seed by Wichita State. And of their last eight tournaments, they’re 0-8 against top-four seeds, so their prospects against 1 seed Duke down the road do not look good.

    Gonzaga (#2) plays UCLA (#11) on Friday at 7:15 p.m. EST.

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