SPORTS
03/23/2013 08:57 am ET

Gonzaga, VCU's HAVOC And Russ Smith Among NCAA Tournament Things To Watch On Saturday

It's Saturday, which unfortunately means you're bracket-busted like 99.7 percent of Americans. (Thanks a lot New Mexico and Georgetown.) But there is no shortage of stellar story lines and matchups today. Gonzaga almost became the first No. 1 seed to lose in the first round, Harvard showed us that you don't need athletic scholarships to win in March and Michigan looked every bit like the top-ranked team in the country from earlier in the season.

Here is a look at the 10 things to watch for on Day 3.

1. Zigzagging Zags

Gonzaga couldn't have played much worse against 16 seed Southern, and it took a Kevin Pangos bailout three-pointer late in the game to secure the win. Against Wichita State -- which dominated Pittsburgh -- the Zags face a brutally physical and equally quick team highly capable of springing an upset. The Shockers' best player, senior guard Malcolm Armstead, is just the type of slashing talent who seems to trouble Mark Few's club.

2. Pac-12 Fever

Perhaps the most disrespected power league in the country had a marvelous opening day, with two 12 seeds -- Oregon and California -- both winning, and Arizona destroying trendy upset pick Belmont. Arizona is easily the most talented bunch of the trio and should handle Harvard, but all three are very tough outs playing their best basketball of the year.

3. "Mountain Worst"

Day 1 couldn't have been much worse for the Mountain West. After getting five teams into the field, the league is down to just Colorado State, which faces overall No. 1 seed Louisville in the round of 32, and San Diego State. New Mexico, fantastic all season, was shocked by Harvard, Boise State lost in the First Four to La Salle and UNLV lost to Cal as a 5 seed. Perhaps New Mexico coach Steve Alford should have stopped clamoring for more respect and worried about the actual game itself. Assuming Colorado State does lose, that pits Mountain West -- which has the highest conference RPI in America -- at a brutal 2-4 for the tournament entering Sunday.

4. More HAVOC?

Shaka Smart's VCU Rams annihilated Akron 88-42 Thursday with its normal dose of non-stop pressing and trapping (22 forced turnovers). Michigan though, counters with potential All-Americans Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., one of the best backcourts in the country. VCU won't overwhelm the Wolverines like it did Akron, but this could be the best and most entertaining game of the day.

ncaa tournament day 3
Shaka Smart's VCU team employs the attacking and always dangerous HAVOC style of defense.

5. Power vs. Speed

Michigan State is vintage Big Ten with size and strength, but Josh Pastnor's Memphis club counters with a remarkable dose of athleticism and speed. The 31-4 Tigers can bang as well, but really thrive in transition with a litany of athletes and shot-makers, specifically Joe Jackson, a talented junior who will bother Keith Appling on both ends. Whether the Spartans can control the Memphis up-tempo attack will decide the outcome.

6. "Russdiculous"

Louisville's hyperactive guard Russ Smith is a wondrous two-way player who sets the tone alongside Peyton Siva for Rick Pitino's Cardinals. Smith will go ADD on you for a couple possessions -- hence the nickname -- but does just about everything you can do on a basketball court. He will be largely responsible in hampering Colorado State guard Dorian Green, who lit up Missouri for six 3s and 26 points.

7. Revenge of the Nerds!

Harvard's drive and kick-based offense and overall toughness will be tested against a multi-talented Arizona team with several pros. Don't forget that Tommy Amaker's team overcame two season-long suspensions (academically of all things) to two senior co-captians before the season even began.

8. Overlooked 'Cuse?

Syracuse quelled most of the concerns with a convincing 81-34 victory over what many thought to be a game Montana squad. Cal however, can do some things offensively with its high quality backcourt that features likely first-round pick Allen Crabbe (19 points per game) and Justin Cobbs (15 points, five assists), along with an experienced coach in Mike Montgomery. Jim Boeheim's 2-3 matchup zone will need to be extremely active for 40 minutes.

9. More Butler Magic?

Butler struggled with Bucknell Thursday, but Marquette absolutely escaped 14 seed Davidson by overcoming a four-point deficit with less than 30 seconds left. Butler, with Rotnei Clark (39 percent 3s) and Kellen Dunham (34 percent 3s), has to get hot from deep, because the Bulldogs' physicality will be matched for 40 minutes.

10. Great Defense Beats Great Offense?

Saint Louis gets a peaking Oregon team that just recently got back perhaps its most dynamic player in freshman point guard Dominic Artis. The Ducks will spread you out with multiple slashers who can score as well as dish to guys like E,J. Singler and streak-shooting Damyean Dotson. The Bilikens however, beat VCU in the Atlantic 10 title game and rank 15th in the country per KenPom because of a tremendous half-court defensive unit relying on five guys playing a string.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related at @Schultz_Report.

CONVERSATIONS