LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sporting Alert) — Top ranked Kentucky returns to action on Saturday in the round of 32 at the NCAA men’s basketball championship. Follow live streaming coverage on NCAA.com.
The Wildcats (35-0), who extended its undefeated record this season with a 79-56 win over the 16th seeded Hampton on Thursday, will take on the No. 8 seed Cincinnati (23-10) in the third round of the Midwest Region at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
Kentucky made a slow and sluggish start in its second round match against a very spirited Hampton club before getting things together to score 41 points in the first half and went up by as many as 35 points after the interval.
Karl-Anthony Towns returned to form to lead the Wildcats with a double-double of 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks and Andrew Harrison added 14 points off the bench for the tournament favourites.
“I didn’t like how we started the game. I didn’t quite like how we finished the game, but it is 1 o’clock at night,” said coach John Calipari.
“…But we did what we were supposed to do.”
On Saturday Calipari’s men will face-off with a Cincinnati side that battled to a 66-65 win over ninth-seed Purdue in their NCAA tournament opener on Thursday night.
The Bearcats won back-to-back national titles in 1961 and 1962, but they were registering a win in the NCAA tournament opener for the first time since 2012, after losing to Creighton and Harvard the seasons afterwards.
Victory against Purdue in the last outing saw Cincinnati, which is ranked sixth in the country for points allowed per game at 55.6 — winning for the sixth time in seven contests.
The American Athletic Conference representatives seemed excited and confident about playing the best team in the country, but the players have been warned, as the Wildcats are ready to get going in the tournament now.
“I expected a lot more out of us and I expected a lot more out of myself,” said Aaron Harrison, who was 0-for-5 from the field and scored just three points.
“I should have played a lot better as well.
“But I think everyone will see a different team on Saturday, definitely.”
Kentucky fans and the nation have set a high standard for the second place finishers from last year and the players are aware.
“Not only is it everybody else around, we should expect that out of ourselves too,” Devin Booker said about their expected performances.
“Coach expects that out of us. He came in here and told us we didn’t play our best game and if we keep playing like that it’s going to be trouble.
“We’re just focusing on coming out first and being the aggressor.”
Meanwhile, the other No. 1 seed in action on Saturday is Villanova, which takes on ACC outfits and eighth-seeded seed NC State in the East Region.
The Wildcats (32-2) rolled past 16th seed Lafayette 93-52 on Thursday to setup what could be a very tricky matchup against the Wolfpack (21-13), who are confident of beating anyone on their day.
All five starters scored in double-digits for Villanova against Lafayette in a balanced attack, while the defense kept the Leopards under 39 percent shooting.
North Carolina State, in the meantime, dumped LSU from the NCAA tournament after squeezing out a 66-65 win over the ninth-seeded club for its fourth win in five games.
At the other end though, Villanova will take a remarkable 16 game winning streak into Saturday’s game. The Big East Conference champions have also won 20 of 21 games and the experts believe they should have little problems taking care of business as their march for another crown lives on.
In the Midwest Regional, Atlantic Coast Conference tournament champions Notre Dame (30-5) will look to take care of business against the sixth-seeded Butler (23-10).
The Fighting Irish, who are being backed by a portion of the media as the team to spring the biggest surprise in this year’s NCAA tournament, held on for a 69-65 positive result over Northeastern in their second round game on Thursday with Zach Auguste leading with 25 points.
In other games on Saturday, meanwhile, No. 2 seed Arizona will battle with the 10th seed Ohio State, fourth-seeded North Carolina face No. 5 seed Utah and the sixth-seeded Xavier aim to avoid an upset against 14th seed Georgia State.
NCAA Tournament Live TV Channels
12:10 PM (14) UAB vs (11) UCLA CBS
2:40 PM (8) Cincinnati vs (1) Kentucky CBS
5:15 PM (10) Ohio State vs (2) Arizona CBS
6:10 PM (14) Georgia St vs (6) Xavier TNT
7:10 PM (8) NC State vs (1) Villanova TBS
7:45 PM (5) Utah vs (4) Georgetown CBS
8:40 PM (5) Arkansas vs (4) North Carolina TNT
9:40 PM (6) Butler vs (3) Notre Dame TBS