2013 March Madness: 15 Most Exciting 2nd-Round Matchups

1 of 16

15 Most Exciting 2nd-Round Matchups In The NCAA Tournament

f
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

From buzzer-beaters, to upsets, and everything in between, March Madness is arguably the most exciting few weeks of the year for basketball fanatics. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament holds a special place in the sports world because of the true “Madness” and memorable moments it provides. Whether you fill out multiple brackets and live and die on every outcome or every game, or you just enjoy watching a certain team or player perform, March Madness is guaranteed to entertain. Possibly the most exciting and entertaining games of the tournament are the 2nd-round matchups.

Originally called the 1st-round before the field expanded to 68, the 2nd-round contests are always a must watch. Each year these matchups bless hoops fans with unbelievable finishes, top seeds falling and star players shinning.

The field of 64, as it is often referred to, has the ability to completely destroy your bracket in the blink of an eye. Starting early in the afternoon and not ending until late into the night, along with the possibility of four different games going on at once, only adds to the greatness of the 2nd-round matchups and gives spectators non-stop basketball. Due to the parody in college basketball this season, I expect even more madness from the 2nd-round games than in years past.

As we near the start of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 2nd-round games, it’s only fitting to take a look at the round of 64 matchups that fans won’t want to miss. With this in mind, here’s a list of the 15 most exciting 2nd-round matchups.

Matt Malecha is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattMalecha and add him to your network on Google.

2 of 16

No. 11 Bucknell vs. No. 6 Butler

No. 11 Bucknell vs. No. 6 Butler
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

When: Thursday 12:40 PM ET

Where: Lexington, KY

Overview: Led by the always entertaining Rotnei Clarke, the Butler Bulldogs are poised to once again make a run in this year’s tournament. But don’t sleep on the Bucknell Bison. With four of their five loses coming by three points or less, the Bison will give Butler all they can handle.

3 of 16

No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh

No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh
Paul Halfacre-USA TODAY Sports

When: Thursday 1:40 PM ET

Where: Salt Lake City, UT

Overview: Wichita State seems to always provide unforgettable March Madness moments. I expect this year to be no different. The Shockers will play a tough Pittsburgh Panthers squad, led by senior guard Tray Woodall. This game figures to be a nail-biter from start to finish.

4 of 16

No. 14 Davidson vs. No. 3 Marquette

No. 14 Davidson vs. No. 3 Marquette
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

When: Thursday 3:10 PM ET

Where: Lexington, KY

Overview: Many are taking the Davidson Wildcats as a 2nd-round upset special. Winners of 17 straight, Davidson will take on Marquette. The Golden Eagles, who finished 14-4 in the always-tough Big East, are definitely battle tested. If Davidson wants to knock off Marquette, the Wildcats 6’7 forward, De’Mon Brooks, will have to own the glass.

5 of 16

No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State

No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

When: Thursday 4:10 PM ET

Where: San Jose, CA

Overview: Oregon was arguably the most disrespected team by the selection committee. After winning the Pac-12 Tournament, the Ducks were only given a 12 seed. Oregon’s 2nd-round opponent, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, have one of the nation’s top players in Marcus Smart. The combination of a team with something to prove, along with a squad anchored by a future NBA lottery pick, should make for a fantastic 2nd-round game.

6 of 16

No. 11 Belmont vs. No. 6 Arizona

No. 11 Belmont vs. No. 6 Arizona
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

When: Thursday 7:20 PM ET

Where: Salt Lake City, UT

Overview: This game has potential upset written all over it. Belmont is a team that loves to shoot the three, while Arizona doesn’t exactly enjoy guarding the perimeter. If the Bruins get hot from the field, Arizona may take an early exit.

7 of 16

No. 12 Akron vs. No. 5 VCU

No. 12 Akron vs. No. 5 VCU
Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports

When: Thursday 9:45 PM ET

Where: Auburn Hills, MI

Overview: With Akron’s star point guard, Alex Abreu, suspended for the reminder of the season and VCU’s March Madness success, many are saying Akron’s magical year will end Thursday. However, the Zips, who held a 19-game winning streak this season, are still a very tough matchup for the Rams. If VCU fails to stop Zeke Marshall inside, expect this to be a tight one.

8 of 16

No. 13 Montana vs. No. 4 Syracuse

No. 13 Montana vs. No. 4 Syracuse
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

When: Thursday 9:57 PM ET

Where: San Jose, CA

Overview: Montana is another popular upset pick, for a few reasons. One reason the Grizzlies have gotten some pre-tournament hype is simple; they’re a quality basketball team. Also, the possibility that Syracuse may have a hangover from their Big East Tournament collapse is provoking fans to pick the Orange to fall. Add in the fact that Syracuse struggled in their 2nd-round game a year ago, and it looks as if the Orange could have their hands full after all.

9 of 16

No. 15 Albany vs. No. 2 Duke

No. 15 Albany vs. No. 2 Duke
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

When: Friday 12:15 PM ET

Where: Philadelphia, PA

Overview: Usually, in a 15/2 matchup, it’s the 15 seed that lacks confidence. However, this situation is different. For Albany, they are coming off a somewhat surprising America East Tournament Championship. Duke on the other hand, just lost to their hated rival, Maryland, and were bounced from the ACC Tournament. Duke also finds themselves in the same spot as last year’s tournament, a 2 seed facing a 15 seed. And I think we all remember what happened to the Blue Devils a year ago.

10 of 16

No. 12 Ole Miss vs. No. 5 Wisconsin

No. 12 Ole Miss vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

When: Friday 12:40 PM ET

Where: Kansas City, MO

Overview: After winning the SEC Tournament, Ole Miss is on a role. The Rebels will face Wisconsin, the nation’s best defensive team, in the 2nd-round of the tournament. It’ll be very interesting to see how the Badgers defend the Rebel’s top scorer, Marshall Henderson. Averaging over 20 points per game, Henderson is one of college basketball’s biggest personalities. The matchup between Henderson and Bo Ryan’s defense should make for a dramatic finish in Kansas City.

11 of 16

No. 9 Temple vs. No. 8 North Carolina State

No. 9 Temple vs. No. 8 North Carolina State
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

When: Friday 1:40 PM ET

Where: Dayton, OH

Overview: After heading into this season with extremely high expectations, North Carolina State has been a huge disappointment. The Wolfpack can still salvage their season with a run in this year’s tournament. In order to do this, they’ll need to first get past an experienced Temple squad. The Owls have some impressive wins this year including victories against Syracuse, Saint Louis and VCU. This 9/8 game promises to excite.

12 of 16

No. 10 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Creighton

No. 10 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Creighton
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

When: Friday 2:45 PM ET

Where: Philadelphia, PA

Overview: The Cincinnati Bearcats finished the year .500 in the Big East. With a very strong back court, the Bearcats have the ability to compete with anyone in the country. Their opponent in the field of 64 is the Creighton Bluejays. Led by Doug McDermott, the Bluejays are one of the best mid-majors in college basketball. This contest is one of the tournament’s can’t miss matchups.

13 of 16

No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Illinois

No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Illinois
Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

When: Friday 4:40 PM ET

Where: Austin, TX

Overview: Outside of conference play, Colorado doesn't have many signature wins. However, to start the tournament the Buffaloes face a streaky Illinois team that is beatable if you shut down their outside shooting. Senior guard, Brandon Paul, must control the Illini offensive attack in order for Illinois to advance past the 2nd-round. With already two memorable buzzer-beaters in their pocket, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Illini got their third come Friday.

14 of 16

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 2 Georgetown

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 2 Georgetown
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

When: Friday 6:50 PM ET

Where: Philadelphia, PA

Overview: Winning 13 of their last 15 games, Georgetown is many people’s favorite to come out of the South Region. The Hoyas better not overlook their 2nd-round matchup, however. Florida Gulf Coast is nothing to sneeze at. The Eagles are arguably the tournament’s toughest 15 seed, and they have an early season win over Miami to prove it. If Otto Porter Jr. and crew don't come ready to play on Friday, we may see a tournament shocker in Philadelphia.

15 of 16

No. 9 Villanova vs. No. 8 North Carolina

No. 9 Villanova vs. No. 8 North Carolina
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

When: Friday 7:20 PM ET

Where: Kansas City, MO

Overview: This matchup is truly a tossup. Both Villanova and North Carolina have the skill to make a run in the tournament. What figures to be a close contest, this game will come down to which team can come through in the clutch.

16 of 16

No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 6 UCLA

No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 6 UCLA
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When: Friday 9:57 PM ET

Where: Austin, TX

Overview: When Minnesota is on, they are capable of being one of the nation’s most dynamic forces. Unfortunately, the Golden Gophers haven’t been able to play consistent basketball this year. With the lights shinning brightest come Friday, I expect Minnesota to up their game, which they’ll need to if they want to compete with Shabazz Muhammad and UCLA. This matchup should go down to the wire.

Around the Web