The first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament are over, and it is time for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. The University of Memphis is hosting the South Regionâ€™s semifinals and finals Friday and Sunday.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The two Sweet 16 games that will be played Friday are North Carolina verse Butler and Kentucky verse UCLA. This part of the bracket is the only region that advanced all four top seeds past the first two rounds.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The first matchup Friday will be North Carolina against Butler. The No. 1 seeded Tar Heels are the favorite to win the game, but there have been bigger upsets this tournament.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Former Memphis Tiger, Avery Woodson, is part of the Bulldogs success this season. He is averaging about nine points per game and shooting nearly 43 percent from deep. In the tournament, he is 8-14 from 3-point range with 25 points in two games.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Kelan Martin leads the offensive attack for the Bulldogs. The Kentucky native is currently leading the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding for the season, averaging 16 and 5.8 respectively.Â
Senior forward Andrew Chrabascz and Freshmen Kamar Baldwin are also key contributors for the Bulldogs with averages of 11 and 10 points per game. They allow for balance in the offense, which makes it hard on the defense to stop.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â North Carolina is an experienced group with nine upperclassmen on the roster. The group has not missed an NCAA tournament and went to the National Championship game last season.
Joel Berry and Justin Jackson lead the way for Roy Williamâ€™s group. Jackson is averaging a team-high 18 points per game and shooting about 39% from 3-point range. Berry leads the team in assists and is second on the team in scoring.
Jackson has been solid this tournament with 21 points against Texas Southern followed by 15 verse Arkansas. Berry has not matched those numbers, going for three and 10, but he has the ability to turn that around.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The second game Friday will mark the official return of former Tigersâ€™ coach John Calipari, now at Kentucky. He has not been in the FedEx Forum since March 14, 2009 when he coached the Tigers to a 64-39 win agaisnt Tulsa in the Conference USA title game.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This game has been highly anticipated because it features two of the nationâ€™s top players, who are expected NBA Draft lottery picks, Malik Monk and Lonzo Ball.
Monk is averaging 20 points per game, shooting 45 percent from the field and almost 40 percent from deep. Ball is averaging 14.7 points per game with shooting percentages of 55.6 from the field and 42 from 3-point range. He also gets his teammates involved by being the top assist man in the nation with 7.6 per game.
The last time these two met was December as The Bruins snapped the Wildcats then 42-game home win streak with a 97-92 victory.Â The defeat gave Calipari only his fifth home loss in eight seasons at Kentucky.
Monk led a late game comeback for the Wildcats and finished with a game high 24 points. Senior Isaac Hamilton led the Bruins with 19 points and Ball finished with 14 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.
The NCAA Tournament is the peak of the college basketball season, and the road to the Final Four comes through Memphis.Â
Joel Berry of North Carolina catches the outlet pass to lead the Tar Heels in transition. He is second on the team in points and first in assist.Â