March Madness

Five Things to Know Ahead of Sunday's March Madness Matchups

The tournament continues on the fifth-straight day of competition. Legendary coaches face off one last time and underdogs look to upset

USA Today

The madness just keeps coming. 

Sunday marks the fifth consecutive day of March Madness and the tournaments have not disappointed. From the double-overtime thriller between Notre Dame and Rutgers to the Cinderella run from St. Peters to the Sweet 16, the men’s tournament has been packed with action. Meanwhile, the women’s tournament is just gearing up and several teams seem destined to shock the world with a run of their own.

Here’s are some of the big storylines to follow ahead of Sunday’s games:

Tom Izzo vs. Mike Krzyzewski

Sunday’s game between No. 2 Duke and No. 7 Michigan State will be a clash of titans with Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo facing off one last time. 

The numbers speak for themselves. Krzyzewski and Izzo are ranked first (97 wins) and fifth (52 wins), respectively, in all-time tournament wins. They also have a combined 20 Final Four appearances. But only one will advance to the Sweet 16. 

These two greats have met 15 times, six of which came in March Madness, and Krzyzewski owns Izzo’s number with a 3-12 advantage. But the stakes are different this time. Krzyzewski  embarked on his farewell tour at the beginning of this season and will surely look to go out in style. That isn’t stopping Izzo who has made it clear he’s up for the challenge and that he considers it a “privilege to be in the game.”

Caitlin Clark's bid for Player of the Year

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark is making a strong case for Player of the Year and her tournament showing could be the thing that tips her over the edge. 

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The sophomore guard currently leads the country in points (27.4) and assists (7.9) in addition to averaging eight rebounds. She was almost perfect on point in the Hawkeye’s first round victory over Iowa -- recording 27 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds on an efficient 9-for-15 performance. 

Iowa will now face Creighton in the second round with a chance to meet the winner of Iowa State and Georgia in the Sweet 16 on the line. The Hawkeyes and Cyclones faced off in a top-15 showdown in December with Iowa State taking the seven-point win.

Second Chance bracket

Think your chance at earning bragging rights for your march madness bracket are over? Think again. 

ESPN is once again offering fans a shot at redemption with a clean slate heading into the Sweet 16. The Second Chance bracket opens Sunday night and fans will have the chance to make their picks for all games from March 24 on. That’s still a tall order with 15 games to hedge your bets. 

Similar to the regular Tournament Challenge, participants who finish with the top entry in a given round, will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win $10,000. 

The Second Chance bracket opens Sunday at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN.com.

How high can Fran Belibi go?

One game in and Fran Belibi is just doing what Fran Belibi does -- dunk.

During Stanford’s opening round matchup against Montana State, Belibi became just the third person to dunk in the women’s tournament, joining a list that includes Brittney Griner and Candace Parker. 

This isn’t a new skill for the 6-foot-1 forward. She garnered attention in high school when she became the second girl to win the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest. Notably, Belibi is eight inches shorter than Griner and three inches shorter than Parker, the first woman to win the dunk contest.

The Cardinal faces No. 8 Kansas on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. If Friday’s game was a preview, Belibi looks pretty comfortable attempting a slam in transition.

FGCU and Belmont look to make it the year of the No. 12 seed

The women’s tournament has long been knocked for not having the same Cinderella story quality as the men’s with the highest seed typically winning and many of the same teams making the Final Four year in and year out. Florida Gulf Coast is booking to change that. 

The No. 12 Eagles upset No. 5 Virginia Tech in the opening round behind a strong shooting performance that saw them go 15 of 38 from beyond the arc. They’re now set to take on No. 4 Maryland in College Park with a shot at the Sweet 16 on the line. If Florida Gulf Coast pulls off the second straight upset in almost as many days they’ll become only the third 12-seed to advance beyond the second round. San Francisco made history in 1996 and Quinnipiac pulled off the upset in 2017 but both were eliminated in Sweet 16.

It’s not one and done for fans hoping to witness an upset. On Monday, Belmont will take on intrastate rival Tennessee. The Volunteers are the No. 4 seed in the Wichita region. 

This is familiar territory for the Bruins. They were a 12-seed in last year’s tournament and upset Gonzaga to make their first ever appearance in the second round.

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