Ranking Friday's NCAA tournament games

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Friday brings a wide range of NCAA tournament matchups -- some interesting, some not so much. We rank the Friday games from worst to best:

4. No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 12 Oregon » Don't call Oregon a Cinderella. Dana Altman's Ducks were justifiably angered over their low seed. Decisive wins over No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Saint Louis last weekend supported their case. Louisville coach Rick Pitino calls this game a "toss-up." Don't believe it. The Cardinals have won 12 straight, all but one coming by 12 or more points. This is the Louisville team everyone expected in the preseason -- big, fast, physical and backcourt-driven. While Oregon had to play its best last weekend, Louisville cruised. That spells trouble for the Ducks.

3. No. 3 Florida vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast » After a whirlwind week in which it was toasted for becoming the first 15th seed to reach the Sweet 16, how will Florida Gulf Coast react to its unprecedented exposure? Last weekend, the Atlantic Sun champion demonstrated its ability to play above the rim, and point guard Brett Comer showed he can handle pressure. But if any team is equipped to deal with the Eagles, it's an in-state foe that has little reason to fear them and advanced with little fanfare last weekend.

2. No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Michigan » An interesting war of words is going on between the teams. Kansas is chafed that many experts are picking Michigan. Jayhawks center Jeff Withey has dismissed Michigan, saying, "I'll probably feel real confident in the game." While Withey, who is seven blocks shy of Tim Duncan's career NCAA tournament record, leads Kansas' edge inside, Michigan's Trey Burke will be the best player on the floor. Two young wild cards are explosive Kansas freshman Ben McLemore and rapidly developing Michigan freshman center Mitch McGary.

1. No. 2 Duke vs. No. 3 Michigan State » What's not to like? This game matches two of the sport's most successful and clean-imaged coaches in Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) and Tom Izzo (Michigan State), two blue-blood programs and two schools with NCAA titles. In addition, there's an intriguing contrast in styles between the finesse Blue Devils and the physical Spartans, epitomized by senior pivot players Derrick Nix of Michigan State and Mason Plumlee of Duke. This matchup has been anticipated since Selection Sunday. Now we'll see why.

- Kevin Dunleavy

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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