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March Madness continues: Ranking the best men’s NCAA Tournament games to watch on Sunday

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In the blink of an eye, the men’s field of the NCAA Tournament is reduced from 64 to Sweet 16. But before reaching the regional semifinals, the second day of the second round remains to be played.

Plenty of intriguing stories are on Sunday’s menu, beginning with one of the best college basketball coaches he’s ever met in the final postseason of his Hall of Fame career taking on a familiar rival. There is plenty of Power Five representation with five Big Ten and four Big 12 leading the way. And for those looking for underdogs to support, there are three double-digit seeds looking to extend their tournament run for another week.

Paolo Banchero and the Duke Blue Devils take on the Michigan State Spartans on Sunday.

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Here’s a ranking of Sunday’s matchups from best to worst (all eastern times):

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 State of Michigan, CBS, 5:15 p.m.

What more is there to say? Mike Krzyzewski vs. Tom Izzo. Blue Devils vs Spartans. Someone makes it to the regional semifinals and someone goes home. Duke must deal with the pressure of trying to win for Coach K and also overcome a tough challenge from Michigan State, which has enough cunning to keep this close and keep things interesting. Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams give the Blue Devils two attacking players who must be contained for the Spartans to stay close.

Prediction: Duke 70-62

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 6 Texas, TNT, 8:40 p.m.

This is shaping up to be a fight between two great programs looking to turn around some recent NCAA Tournament disappointments. The Boilermakers haven’t been to the Final Four since 1980 and had several frustrating outings during Matt Painter’s tenure. The Longhorns hadn’t won a tournament game since 2014 before defeating Virginia Tech in the first round. Someone has to make it to the Sweet 16. The outcome could simply come down to whether Texas can find a way to stop Jaden Ivey.

Prediction: Purdue 73-66

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No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 5 Houston, CBS, 12:10 p.m.

Ugly doesn’t go far enough to describe how bad the Illini looked against Chattanooga. Victory was quintessential tournament survival and advancement. However, they have little chance of going any further without a serious upgrade against the Cougars. Kofi Cockburn should go in. It’s the Illinois shooters who have to deliver. Houston’s defensive numbers are off the charts, first in field goal percentage and fourth in scoring, making this game tense and close with the winner making enough key plays late to advance.

Prediction: Houston 57-55

No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 7 Ohio State, CBS, 2:40 p.m.

The Buckeyes stumbled in the tournament, but with improved health, they looked dangerous as they defeated Loyola-Chicago in the first round. The challenge will be different with the Wildcats, who have tournament experience and are looking to peak at the right time. Ohio State’s EJ Liddell has the size to dominate inside. He will need to be at his best with Villanova’s perimeter attack, led by Collin Gillespie, capable of scoring in spades.

Prediction: Villanueva 65-58

No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Notre Dame, TBS, 7:10 p.m.

The Irish traveled three time zones and beat Alabama less than 48 hours after winning the First Four. Do they have enough juice to handle the Red Raiders’ tough defense? Their shooters are capable of hitting shots, particularly Cormac Ryan and Dane Goodwin, as long as fatigue isn’t a factor. It’s a tough question though, as Texas Tech has been consistent all year and is built for tournament success.

Prediction: Texas Tech 74-68

No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 10 Miami (Fla.), TruTV, 7:45 p.m.

Playing away from the friendly confines of home, the Tigers have struggled and that flaw could be exposed at some point in the tournament. The Hurricanes, however, don’t appear to be the team to take advantage of unless they shoot well from outside. Kameron McGusty and Isaiah Wong are his best hopes. They’ll also have to find a way to defend Auburn forward Jabari Smith to stay.

Prediction: Auburn 72-62

No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 11 Iowa State, TNT, 6:10 p.m.

A closer-than-expected win against Colgate leaves some questions about the Badgers. They have the ability to reach the Final Four, although leaving early would not be a big surprise. The Cyclones have come through all year after being picked to finish last in the Big 12. They’ve had a great run. That run should come to an end in Milwaukee with a crowd of Wisconsin fans available.

Prediction: Wisconsin 70-60

No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 9 TCU, TBS, 9:40 p.m.

If a team can easily go 32-3, then the Wildcats have succeeded in that achievement. They’re the title contender who seems to be under the radar, which is puzzling given their success in the Pac-12. TCU’s celebration of their first tournament win since 1987 shouldn’t have lasted long for the Horned Frogs realizing Arizona was next. TCU has beaten Kansas and Texas Tech, so it’s capable of surprising. But don’t hold your breath.

Prediction: Arizona 80-65

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: March Madness: Sunday’s NCAA Tournament games, ranked by visibility

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