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Joe Boozell | | March 23, 2017

Everything you need to know about Sweet 16 Thursday

  Moritz Wagner and the Wolverines will look to stay hot against Oregon.

Four teams will inch a step closer to the Final Four tonight. Four others will go home. Talk about high stakes.

The NCAA tournament is back. Those were three long days, weren’t they? Here’s what you need to know for Thursday.

View the updated bracket | Check your bracket

Midwest, West Regionals begin tonight

The matchups are:

• 7:09 p.m. ET — (3) Oregon vs. (7) Michigan (CBS) WATCH LIVE
• 7:39 p.m. ET — (1) Gonzaga vs. (4) West Virginia (TBS) WATCH LIVE
• 9:39 p.m. ET — (1) Kansas vs. (4) Purdue (CBS) WATCH LIVE
• 10:09 p.m. ET — (2) Arizona vs. (11) Xavier (TBS) WATCH LIVE

A little something for everyone

• If you like rapidly changing, crooked numbers on the scoreboard, Oregon-Michigan is the game for you. Both teams have top-20 offenses and star-power across the board; can Tyler Dorsey come anywhere near his 9-for-10, 27-point performance from Sunday? Can Moritz Wagner torch the Ducks like he did the Louisville Cardinals? We’re about to find out.

• Frantic, helter-skelter ball more your flavor? Then check out West Virginia vs. Gonzaga. The Mountaineers lead the country in forced turnovers. The Bulldogs have more quality 7-footers than some NBA teams. Fire meets ice here.

• Purdue vs. Kansas pits 250-pound manchild Caleb Swanigan of the Boilermakers vs. the slim, hyper-explosive freshman Josh Jackson. As in, they could realistically guard one another for extended stretches. Sign us up.

• The nightcap features Arizona's Sean Miller coaching against his former school (Xavier) and protégé Chris Mack. The 11th-seeded Musketeers aren’t supposed to be here. They are. Does the good fortune end tonight? We break down each game in detail.

Ranking potential Final Four newbies

Guaranteed: Either Greg Gard or Mike White, Frank Martin or Scott Drew will make his first Final Four this year. (It's Gard's Wisconsin vs. White's Florida team, and Martin's South Carolina vs. Drew and Baylor in the East region tomorrow.) They are among 11 Sweet 16 coaches who have a chance to reach their first-ever national semifinal.

Tonight, if Arizona and Gonzaga win, Sean Miller and Mark Few, who have five Elite Eight appearances between them -- but no wins -- would have a chance to rewrite their narrative, too. Few, the head man at top-seed Gonzaga, has a 1-5 career mark in the Sweet 16.’s Mike Lopresti digs deeper into what a Final Four appearance would mean to these hungry coaches.

Welcome back, big fella

Today, Przemek Karnowski is Gonzaga’s most reliable player. In late 2015, his back hurt so badly that he struggled to get out of bed in the morning.  

"Literally, we were rooting for him to come back from that and just be able to function a normal life," Few said.

If Few reaches the Final Four, it will be a remarkable story. The same goes for Karnowski. John Marshall details Karnowksi’s journey back from a gruesome injury.

Mark your calendar

Sweet 16 begins: Tonight!
Elite Eight begins: Saturday
Final Four in Phoenix: Semifinals on Saturday, April 1; Championship game on Monday, April 3


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