Previewing first-round games in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Quick looks at the four games here:


Key To The Game: Who handles the big-stage nerves? The Gators have the recent NCAA hardware, winning it all in 2006 and '07, but they haven't been there since. BYU is the more seasoned NCAA team with three straight appearances, but has been bounced in the first round in each of them.

Player To Watch: Jimmer Fredette, perhaps the hottest player in the tournament after scoring 75 points in two games in the Mountain West Conference tournament.

Who Has The Edge: BYU is the higher seed, but tipoff comes at 10:20 Mountain Daylight Time. Are the Cougars awake when the ball goes up?

North Texas-Kansas State

Key to the Game: Can the Mean Green stay composed against the Wildcats' disruptive defense? K-State makes running an offense very difficult, from guard pressure to active and athletic big men inside. If North Texas can't settle in, this game could get ugly quickly.

Player to Watch: Jacob Pullen, Kansas State. Great shooter, and also wears a pretty cool Lincoln beard.

Who Has the Edge: Strong edge to the Wildcats -- if they handle the pressure of being a heavy favorite. If this game stays close, will that pressure wear on the Wildcats?

Northern Iowa-UNLV

Key to the Game: Who controls tempo? UNLV is hard to beat when it scores at least 70 points -- but getting to 70 will be extremely difficult against a team that allows the second-fewest points per game in the nation and likes to slow things to a crawl.

Player to Watch: UNLV leading scorer Tre'Von Willis, who hasn't missed a free throw in a month and finds ways to score.

Who Has the Edge: The Panthers are a deep, experienced team that probably got a bad break being seeded 9th. They will be a very tough out in this game.


Key to the Game: Can Lehigh avoid being crushed from the opening tip?

Player to Watch: Sherron Collins. The Kansas point guard dictates the flow for his team and is usually the leading barometer for how the Jayhawks will perform. Does he look like a guy ready to play six games?

Who Has the Edge: Kansas. Just a little.