JON WILNER'S NCAA PREVIEW: FRIDAY'S GAMES

A look at Friday's second-round games.

SOUTH

No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth vs. No. 12 Stephen F Austin (4:27 p.m., truTV): SFA is the champion of the Southland, winner of every game since Nov. 23 and a trendy upset pick. But the Lumberjacks are taking a major step up in competition -- they played one top-tier team all season, Texas, and lost by 10. VCU coach Shaka Smart will have the Rams ready after the surprising loss in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Pick: VCU.

No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Tulsa (6:57 p.m., truTV): Plenty of subplots as the Bruins attempt to build on their impressive showing in the Pac-12 tournament. Tulsa's coach, for those unfamiliar, is former Kansas star Danny Manning. The schools also have some history: Tulsa's blowout of the Bruins in the 1994 tournament (under coach Tubby Smith) was the driving force behind UCLA's charge to the '95 title. If this is close, Kyle Anderson will be the difference down the stretch. Pick: UCLA.

No. 7 New Mexico vs. No. 10 Stanford (10:30 a.m., TBS): Give Stanford the edge in personnel, but UNM's physicality will be problematic for the Cardinal. The Lobos also have several sources of motivation: Avoiding another second-round loss -- they were upset by Harvard last year — and proving the selection committee wrong for seeding them three lines below league rival San Diego State. Stanford won't win unless point guard (and Illinois native) Chasson Randle plays well, but he alone cannot carry the Cardinal. Winner beats Kansas in the third round. Pick: New Mexico.

No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 15 Eastern Kentucky (1:10 p.m., TBS): Even without injured center Joel Embiid (back), the Jayhawks have too much talent for EKU -- wing Andrew Wiggins could win the game by himself if necessary. But KU has been a feast-or-famine team in the NCAAs under coach Bill Self, and without Embiid, a premier shot blocker, they're vulnerable to elimination this weekend against the Stanford-UNM winner. Pick: Kansas.

EAST

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Coastal Carolina (6:25 p.m., TBS): There is plenty to like about the top-seeded Cavaliers under coach Tony Bennett. They share the ball, defend ferociously and are poised in pressure situations. They won the ACC regular season and tournament titles for a reason. But they do not possess elite talent. That won't be a problem against Coastal Carolina, but it will be an issue next week. Pick: Virginia.

No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 9 George Washington (3:55 p.m., TBS): Memphis has the better roster, but the Tigers have struggled in the NCAAs under Josh Pastner, with one victory in three appearances. They lost four of their last eight in the regular season and were blown off the court by UConn in the American Athletic Conference tournament. George Washington was also thumped its last time on the floor, in the A-10 tourney. Pick: George Washington.

No. 6 North Carolina vs. No. 11 Providence (4:20 p.m., TNT): If you can figure out North Carolina, you've got a chance to pick all 67 games correctly and win Warren Buffett's $1 billion. The Tar Heels lost to UAB and Belmont, but they beat Louisville, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke. They aren't lacking for talent, only focus. Which team shows up against Providence? The just-good-enough-Heels. Pick: North Carolina.

No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 14 N.C. Central (6:50 p.m., TNT): Had the Cyclones been slotted in a different region — away from Michigan State — they probably would be a trendy Final Four pick. Coached by ISU alum Fred "The Mayor" Hoiberg, the Big 12 tournament champs play fast, are highly skilled, and don't buckle under pressure (3-0 in overtime games). This won't be close. Pick: Iowa State.

WEST

No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 16 Weber State (11 a.m., TNT): A nice transition game for the Wildcats as they ramp up for a Final Four run less than a week after losing to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament. Arizona is awful from the foul line, but that shouldn't be an issue against Weber State. The key for the Cats, who rely heavily on just six players: Take care of business early and get the starters off the court to rest up for what could be a difficult third-round game. Pick: Arizona.

No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State (1:40 p.m., TNT): Has all the makings of a terrific round-of-64 game. These Zags aren't as talented as previous versions, but they play well together and have multiple scoring options (Sam Dower, Gary Bell, etc.). Oklahoma State was a preseason top-10 team and possesses one of the nation's most talented guards in Marcus Smart. The Cowboys underachieved for four months. Will they find their mojo now that March has arrived? Pick: Oklahoma State

No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 11 Nebraska (9:30 a.m., truTV): Feels like it should be a football game, but both basketball programs are on the rise. Baylor has won 10 of 12, with six of the victories over tournament teams. The Bears are talented but not well coached by Scott Drew. Led by wing Terran Petteway (18.1 ppg), a transfer from Texas Tech, the Cornhuskers claim wins over Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State. They'll handle Baylor. Pick: Nebraska.

No. 3 Creighton vs. No. 14 Louisiana Lafayette (12:10 p.m., truTV): The first game of Doug McDermott's final NCAA Tournament. But the nation's best player (26.9 ppg) will need help from his teammates in order for the Bluejays to make a deep run. (Even Larry Bird and Danny Manning had quality support.) The contributions must start immediately against a Lafayette team that is better than you might expect. Pick: Creighton.

MIDWEST

No. 1 Wichita State vs. No. 16 Cal Poly (4:10 p.m., CBS): Poly's amazing run through the Big West and the First Four now collides with daunting history: Never before in the men's tournament has a No. 16 seed beaten a No. 1, and the Mustangs (14-19) won't be the first. Wichita State isn't loaded with first-round NBA picks, but the Shockers are good in all facets and tournament tested. They reached the Final Four last year, after all, and have most of that team back for a run at the title. Pick: Wichita State.

No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Kansas State (6:40 p.m., CBS): All eyes are on Big Blue, which possesses more raw talent than any team in the tournament but hasn't shown the focus or consistency required to win four games in a row, much less six. Kansas State is well coached by Bruce Weber (formerly of Illinois) but doesn't have the ability to stay with Kentucky if it's operating on all cylinders. A first-class performance by UK would give everyone in the loaded Midwest reason to worry. Pick: Kentucky.

No. 6 Massachusetts vs. No. 11 Tennessee (11:45 a.m., CBS): High probability of an upset except that technically, it wouldn't qualify as one: the lower seed is favored by four points. And there's a reason: Tennessee has won six of its last seven, gave Florida a run in the SEC tournament and was impressive in overtime Wednesday against Iowa in the First Four. UMass doesn't have the playmakers to derail the Vols. Pick: Tennessee.

No. 3 Duke vs. No. 14 Mercer (9 a.m., CBS): Duke should have no trouble dispatching the Atlantic Sun champs (the same league that produced Florida Gulf Coast last year). Then again, the Blue Devils haven't exactly dominated the early rounds in recent years: They were eliminated on the first weekend in '07, '08 and '12. Defense has been the issue and could be again this March: Coach K's team is 96th in adjusted efficiency. But the Devils have enough punch offensively with Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood to survive the round of 64. Pick: Duke.

-- JON WILNER