TIME Appreciation

Kid Who Won ESPN’s March Madness Bracket Donates Xbox Prize to Make-A-Wish

He got one Xbox for himself and another to donate

We told you earlier this week about Sam Holtz, the 12-year-old who tied for the best bracket in this year’s ESPN Tournament Challenge out of 11.57 million entries.

It turns out that even though he had his dad’s permission to enter the contest, he wasn’t eligible for the drawing for a $20,000 Best Buy gift card and a trip to Maui since he was not 18 or older.

Best Buy was gracious enough to award Holtz a $1,000 gift card anyway, and he did what many kids his age would do: purchase himself an Xbox One, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Holtz still had money on the gift card left over, and instead of using it on himself, he decided to buy another Xbox One and donate it to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.

He explained his decision to the Tribune:

“I decided to donate one of the Xbox One systems to Make-A-Wish because of my cousin Alec,” Sam said. “When he was real little, he was in Make-A-Wish, and back then [23 years ago], people granted his wish of going to Disney World. I thought I’d kind of repay them for what they did for my cousin [who survived his illness and is now an adult].”

It’s a terrific gesture by Holtz, who’s got to still be riding high after pulling off the impressive bracket feat.

​[CollegeBasketballTalk]

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

 

TIME March Madness

Mitt Romney Has a Seriously Impressive NCAA Bracket

And it's much better than Obama's

Finally, Mitt Romney has something to gloat about in front of President Obama: his spot-on March Madness bracket.

The 2012 GOP presidential candidate guessed six of the Elite Eight teams and all of those that made the Final Four; his bracket is ranked 25,485 in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge. That may not sound impressive, but it actually puts him in the 99.8th percentile of the 11 million-plus brackets submitted. Obama currently stands in the 40th percentile in 6,918,578th place.

Romney skipped a bracket in 2012, the Los Angeles Times reports, saying he didn’t know enough about the teams to participate. But either he was just too busy, you know, running for President, or he’s done some serious catchup.

Like the rest of the die-hard fans, he’ll be watching Monday night’s championship on the edge of his seat. At the Big Dance, he’s got Duke over Wisconsin.

Read next: A Wisconsin-Duke Final Is Just Fine

TIME Media

How March Madness Showed Streaming TV Isn’t Perfect Yet

Wisconsin v Kentucky
Streeter Lecka—Getty Images Traevon Jackson #12 of the Wisconsin Badgers handles the ball against Tyler Ulis #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Sling TV suffered outages during Saturday's action

Though there’s an ever-growing list of streaming services aiming to bring live television online, there are still plenty of kinks to work out. That was apparent Saturday night when Dish Network’s livestreaming service Sling TV suffered outages during the Final Four men’s college basketball matchups.

As Duke battled Michigan State and Wisconsin squared off against Kentucky, some users weren’t able to reliably watch the games on Sling TV, which carries TBS, TNT, ESPN and a handful of other live channels for $20 per month. The Wisconsin-Kentucy had the highest TV ratings for a Final Four game in 22 years, so it’s no surprise that Sling was getting hammered during the broadcast.

Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch told Re/code that the issues only affected about 1,000 users. Re/code earlier reported that Sling had signed on more than 100,000 users in its first month available.

The Sling TV errors come after similar hiccups during HBO’s stream of the season premiere of Game of Thrones last April and ABC’s livestream of the Oscars earlier this year. Web TV is finally here, but it’s still got a ways to go to achieve the reliability of cable during big events.

TIME Basketball

5 Questions That Will Determine the Outcome of the NCAA Championship

NCAA Basketball March Madness Final Four Stadium
Streeter Lecka—Getty Images A general view as the Duke Blue Devils play the Michigan State Spartans during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis.

Duke and Wisconsin face off on April 6

I don’t know what’s harder to believe: that there’s only one game left in the 2014-15 season, or that Kentucky isn’t in it. As the shock subsides from seeing the Wildcats’ run at history truncated, let us savor the delectable matchup that awaits us Monday night. For the first time since 2008, two No. 1 seeds will meet for the NCAA championship in men’s basketball. Either Duke or Wisconsin will provide this season’s final answer. Here are the five questions that will decide the outcome:

1. How good is Duke’s defense?

When the Blue Devils went through their rough patch in January, their defense, especially on the perimeter, was so porous that Mike Krzyzewski used a zone defense for the first time in his career. Not only have they fixed those problems, but they have evolved into a truly outstanding defensive team. Just as Duke locked down Gonzaga during the final seven minutes of the South regional final, it blew open Saturday night’s semifinal against Michigan State in the first half, holding the Spartans to just three field goals in their final 20 attempts before intermission.

But guess what: The Blue Devils are not playing Michigan State on Monday night. Rather, they are going up against the most efficient offense in the country, headed by the two most versatile big men in America.

On the other hand, Duke has been doing such a stellar job shutting off dribble penetration that it’s easy to envision Wisconsin guards Bronson Koenig, Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser having an off night. Remember, Wisconsin leads the nation in turnover percentage and is ranked 345th in tempo. The Badgers rely heavily on their ability to control the ball. If the Blue Devils can force turnovers and get a few runouts, that could be the difference in a close, low-scoring game.

2. Which Sam Dekker will show up?

For casual fans who are just tuning in to the NCAA tournament, Wisconsin’s 6’9” junior forward looks like a consensus All-American. That was not the case for most of the season, and it was especially not true in the Badgers’ loss to Duke in Madison on Dec. 3. On that night, Dekker was hobbled by a lingering ankle sprain and scored five points on five shots. There’s a chance he will take that many shots by the first TV time out on Monday night.

Dekker is playing with maximum efficiency and extreme confidence. On a team that includes the national player of the year, he has been the Badgers’ best asset. His team will need another peak performance to claim the title. So which Dekker will they get: The Dud or The Dude?

3. Can Jahlil Okafor stay out of foul trouble?

Most college basketball teams do not have a forward who is capable of defending Duke’s freshman center in the post without needing help. The Badgers have four. Wisconsin also leads the nation in defensive free throw rate. This team is expert at getting opposing players into foul trouble while keeping its own big guys on the floor.

Okafor has not been dominant lately from a scoring perspective—he scored 18 points in the semifinal against Michigan State but failed to reach double digits in either of the two games in the South regional last week—but his presence forces defenses to adjust. If he’s not in the game, the Badgers can be more aggressive covering Duke’s three-point shooters. Moreover, if Okafor is in foul trouble, the Badgers are probably cashing in at the free throw line. Wisconsin outscored Kentucky by nine on the foul line and by seven on the scoreboard Saturday night. That is not a coincidence.

4. Will Duke make seven or more three-pointers?

That’s how many treys the Blue Devils made (on just 12 attempts) when they carved up the Badgers in Madison. It will probably require at least that many for Duke to prevail in the final.

Wisconsin is a good defensive team, but defending the three-point line is not a big emphasis. The Badgers are ranked 309th nationally in three-point defense (37.6%) and 325th in steals percentage. They won’t foul you or let you score at the rim, but they will let you run your offense and shoot over them. Duke needs to maximize those opportunities.

Incidentally, it’s not just the usual suspects, Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones, who need to come through. Junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon came off the bench to score 14 points in the first meeting, but after Krzyzewski dismissed Sulaimon, two other guards, sophomore Matt Jones and freshman Grayson Allen, saw their minutes spike. Both are better three-point shooters than Sulaimon. Duke needs at least one, and more likely both, to chip in.

Why Duke can win the national championship

Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel and Brian Hamilton discuss why the Duke Blue Devils are a team built with all the right pieces to win a national championship.

5. How much does Wisconsin have left in the tank?

I refer not to Frank Kaminsky, but the proverbial, metaphysical tank that stores mental and physical energy. If you saw the footage of the Badgers’ postgame locker room celebration Saturday night, you did not see a team that appeared to be focused intently on the task at hand. Yes, the players had good reason to celebrate, but it is not the best way to get mentally prepared for one final battle.

Many excellent teams have been undone by success, so it will require every ounce of effort for Wisconsin to get mentally prepared for this game. This is an old, mature roster that does not include a single player who was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school. These kids have been given nothing. They understand the value of focus and hard work. And in case they don’t, they have a grizzled veteran of a coach to remind them. History says this is difficult, but not impossible. After all, the last time an undefeated team (UNLV) lost in the Final Four (1991), the team that beat it (Duke) went on to win the championship.

THE PICK

O.K., it’s time for some answers. So here they are:

1. Very

2. The Dude

3. Not likely

4. Yes

5. Just enough

Wisconsin 69, Duke 66

This article originally appeared on SI.com

Read next: A Wisconsin-Duke Final Is Just Fine

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Basketball

These Maps Show the Most Talked-About Final Four Team in Each State

Kentucky looks to be the fan favorite on social media

If Facebook could predict winners, Kentucky would take home the championship title in the 2015 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The social media site has used its data to put together two maps that reveal fan favorites by state. In the first, you can see how each state breaks down according to how many people “like” the team’s page on Facebook.

Facebook FF Likes Map

The second map reveals which teams Facebook users in each state have been talking about the most from March 15 through 31, during which time 14 million people talked about the tournament on the site.

Facebook FF Conversation Map

Comparing the two maps indicates that 13 states with mostly Duke fans, according to their likes, are actually talking more about Kentucky on Facebook.

When the Final Four games are played on Saturday, Facebook will be a lonely place for Michigan State fans.

TIME College Basketball

Michigan State Students Celebrate Final Four Place by Tossing Bagels in the Air

We can't understand it either

Michigan State is the only non-number one seed to make it to the Final Four this year, and the students are celebrating by…hurling bagels into the air?

Yep, hundreds of Michigan State fans gathered on the campus to celebrate the Spartans’ overtime victory against the Louisville Cardinals Sunday by tossing bagels like confetti. Some students even took the festivities to the next level by burning sweatshirts and couches. Police dispersed the crowd, making at least four arrests, according to The Detroit News.

The Michigan State University Police Department, who apparently was as confused by the bagel throwing as everyone else, issued a warning on its Twitter about the festivities:

Even the lieutenant governor tweeted about the bagel-tossing:

Though Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has reached the Final Four seven times, this one is perhaps the most incredible. The Spartans entered the tournament as a 7-seed after losing their best players from last year’s season. They’ll play Duke on Saturday.

What breakfast food will the fans throw if the team makes it to the championship game?

TIME College Basketball

That Last-Second Free-Throw in the Duke-Utah Game Cost Vegas Millions

during a South Regional Semifinal game of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at NRG Stadium on March 27, 2015 in Houston, Texas.
Tom Pennington—2015 Getty Images Quinn Cook #2 of the Duke Blue Devils and Delon Wright #55 of the Utah Utes battle for a rebound during a South Regional Semifinal game of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at NRG Stadium on March 27, 2015 in Houston, Texas.

The whistle was ignored in the stadium but heard loud and clear by bettors

A seemingly meaningless free-throw shot in the Duke-Utah Sweet 16 game cost Vegas big bucks Friday night.

When the buzzer sounded, Duke was up five points 62-57. That was bad news for bettors who picked Duke. Since most sportsbooks had Duke as a 5-point favorite, Duke would have to win by more than 5 points for those bettors to get paid. But after players had already left the court, officials said they had called a last-second foul. Putting 0.7 seconds back on the clock, Duke guard Quinn Cook sank one free-throw that cost casinos thousands because they were forced to pay the three-quarters of bettors who had placed their money on Duke.

Exactly how much money casinos lost is still unclear, but it’s probably in the millions. “It caused a million-dollar swing with parlay liability, to the bad,” MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood told ESPN.

Here’s what happened: Duke led 62-57 with 10 seconds left in the game when Cook rebounded a missed shot by Utah forward Jordan Loveridge. Cook wrestled for the ball with Utah defenders in what could have been a jump ball call. But the whistles stayed silent, and Cook dribbled out of trouble.

With the game seemingly over, the Utes began to head back to the locker room as the Blue Devils celebrated. But officials said they called a foul on Utah guard Brandon Taylor who grabbed Cook as he was dribbling away with 0.7 seconds left. Officials called the Utes back to the court so Cook could shoot what seemed to the players to be pointless free-throws. Duke came away with its 6-point victory.

According to ESPN, 77% of spread bettors were on Duke on Friday night. Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology said they had a six-figure swing after the free-throw, according to ESPN.

Bettors tweeted their fury and joy—depending upon where they placed their bets:

Watch the last-second foul below:

Read next: Crazy Long Shot March Madness Bet Looks to Pay Off Big Time

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

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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