Maryland (17-14) vs. North Carolina (27-4) When: Noon Where: Atlanta, Philips Arena (18,200) Fast break: Terps have not been pleased with how UNC closed out its two victories over them this season and will get a chance to lay out a shocker to kick off Friday’s quarterfinals. To do so, Maryland must get excellent games from Terrell Stoglin and Nick Faust penetrating and getting to the rim (and converting) and by matching the Heels on the glass, or at least coming close. UNC simply has to play it game and it will advance. Forecast: UNC, 81-65.
N.C. State (21-11) vs. Virginia (22-8) When: 2:30 p.m. Where: Atlanta, Philips Arena (18,200) Fast break: An NCAA invitation could be on the line for the Wolfpack. A win won’t guarantee State a bid, but it sure will help. But beating the patient Cavaliers requires a high IQ performance on defense from an NCSU team that doesn’t always exhibit thoughtfulness on that end of the floor. It also means C.J. Leslie must be more dialed in than he was in Thursday’s win over BC. Forecast: N.C. State, 63-59.
Virginia Tech (16-16) vs. Duke (26-5) When: 7 p.m. Where: Atlanta, Philips Arena (18,200) Fast break: The Hokies did a nice job overtaking Clemson and defeating the Tigers in the first round and believe they are ready to take on Duke in the quarterfinals. Tech lost in overtime at Duke two weeks ago, and with Blue Devils’ forward Ryan Kelly out, the Hokies have a shot at pulling off the upset. To do so, though, they must run a crisper offense and make better decisions than they did Thursday night. Duke is a perimeter team, so it must hit from beyond the arc. But the Devils can build a large margin by dominating the glass and getting points in the paint. Tech hangs tough but doesn’t have enough. Forecast: Duke, 67-62.
Article continues below ...
Miami (19-11) vs. Florida State (21-9) When: 9:30 p.m. Where: Atlanta, Philips Arena (18,200) Fast break: This is a nice matchup of teams that played a strange game two weeks ago, with the Hurricanes pulling away for a convincing victory. Miami was awesome for a 12-minute stretch in the second half versus Georgia Tech on Thursday night, but otherwise was not sharp. The Canes need to run an efficient offense and hit perimeter shots. FSU has to be the aggressor, physically and athletically. It must defend the ball and force Miami into making poor decisions. This game can go either way, and it’s tempting to pick the Canes. Forecast: FSU, 65-63.