Breaking down Friday’s can’t-miss matches

Here are Friday’s main March Madness 2023 matches to watch:

USC No. 10 vs. Michigan State No. 7: 12:15 p.m., CBS

In a tournament featuring Alabama and its unseemly response to a shootout, consider shooting for Michigan State and its Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo.

After a campus shooting in February killed three students, Izzo spoke out against gun violence at a candlelight vigil in East Lansing.

He’s as close to a sure thing as he was in March, having won at least one game in eight of his last 10 NCAA tournaments with the Spartans.

Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo
Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo

Vermont No. 15 vs. Marquette No. 2: 2:45 p.m., CBS

No team in the country was a bigger surprise than Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles, who were picked to finish ninth in the Big East preseason poll but went on to win the regular season and tournament titles of the conference.

Guard Tyler Kolek, second in the nation with 7.7 assists per game, rocks this explosive offense.

No. 11 NC State vs. No. 6 Creighton: 4 p.m., TNT

Another Big East team enters the field when Creighton, a parenthetically popular sleeper pick, takes on the ACC’s highest-scoring Wolfpack.

NC State (78.2) and Creighton (76.6) are two of the top scoring teams in the nation, so if you’re looking for a track game, this might be it.

Keep an eye out for NC State’s backcourt tandem of Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner, who combine to average nearly 35 points per game.

Providence No. 11 vs. Kentucky No. 6: 7:10 p.m., CBS

John Calipari, Kentucky coach
John Calipari, Kentucky coach
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Kentucky fans don’t have fond memories of the Wildcats’ appearance at the NCAA Tournament last year, when they were stunned as the 2nd seed by 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s in overtime.

Since then, Kentucky coach John Calipari has struggled with criticism from his team, which was in the bubble for much of the year before a late-season surge.

He will rely on big man Oscar Tshiebwe, whose 30 points last year were not enough to prevent a first-round upset.

Big East coach Ed Cooley’s brothers are looking to build on last year’s run to the Sweet 16.

No. 13 Kent St. vs. No. 4 Indiana: 9:55 p.m., TNT

Former Knicks coach Mike Woodson is back in the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year, possessing one of the most dominant players in the nation, senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is a threat in the painting and as a ball handler.

The Golden Flashes haven’t won a tournament game since 2002, but MAC teams have recently pulled off March Madness upsets, including Buffalo in 2019 and Ohio in 2021.

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