From unpredictable upsets to high-scoring track meets and plenty of thrills along the way, the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament had about everything that we want out of March Madness. But now the stakes have been raised as the goal of the weekend is not just to celebrate making it to the Big Dance, but punching a ticket to the Sweet 16. 

Eight games on Saturday's second-round schedule will give us half of the picture for the second weekend, and the slate includes several top teams putting their expectations of playing through the weekend on the line. No. 1 seed North Carolina, No. 2 seed Iowa State and No. 2 seed Tennessee have been considered among the top teams in the country for much of the season, and given that status it would be a disappointment for their season to end before at least reaching the regional semifinal. 

But all three of those teams have challenging second round foes on Saturday, and while each fan base would devastated by a loss the oddsmakers are expecting some nail-biters with points spreads for all three games inside of seven points. North Carolina will be up first squaring off with No. 9 Michigan State (5:30 p.m. ET, CBS), followed shortly by Iowa State against No. 7 Washington State (6:10 p.m. ET, TNT) and then Tennessee will follow the Tar Heels and the Spartans with their Midwest Region action against No. 7 Texas (8 p.m. ET, CBS). 

But it will not be the case for every team involved in Saturday's second round to say being here was the expectation. That is definitely the case in the South Region, where No. 11 NC State will face No 14 Oakland with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line (7:10 p.m. ET, TBS). Double-digit seeds making it into the Sweet 16 is something that's celebrated every year in the NCAA Tournament, and now we're guaranteed to get at least one thanks to this matchup of the Wolfpack and the Golden Grizzles. NC State garnered national attention during its conference tournament run, winning five games in five days with wins against the No. 2 seed (Duke), No. 3 seed (Virginia) and No. 1 seed (North Carolina) on the way to claiming the ACC's automatic bid. Oakland is more of a recent addition to the national conversation, but their arrival came like a thunderclap as they stunned Kentucky in an all-time NCAA Tournament upset. 

So from the top of the bracket all the way down to the No. 14 seeds, we've got a lot on the line as teams look to extend their tournament stay an another week. Let's get into some of the big storylines to know for Saturday's second-round action.    

A tough test for the top-seed Tar Heels 

Tom Izzo has more NCAA Tournament wins coaching a lower seeded team than anyone in history, and he's been especially dangerous in this spot playing the second game of tournament pod. His quick prep and turnaround record is legendary because it backs up what we've come to know and expect from the Hall of Fame coach, that his ability to assemble a game plan and impart that knowledge to his team in a high-pressure time-sensitive situation is as good as anyone in the modern era. Last season, it was a No. 7 seeded Michigan State team that bounced Marquette, the No. 2 seed, from the NCAA Tournament in the second round. Now the Spartans have much of that same core back as they take aim at the No. 1 seed North Carolina (5:30 p.m. ET, CBS). 

But North Carolina will not be intimidated by Izzo's seed upset history or the ceiling of this talented Spartans team. The Tar Heels have been battle-tested by one of the tougher schedules in the country and entered the tournament with 27 wins and a No. 1 seed. R.J. Davis and Armando Bacot have played in a national championship game and his 2024 edition of the Tar Heels swept Duke and beat Tennessee. The game is also being played in Charlotte, which always brings out a strong contingent of UNC fans. The high skill level and intensity of the Sweet 16 stakes should bring out the best from these two teams from national championship-winning programs, and it highlights what's already a huge day of tournament action.     

Will any No. 11 seeds advance to the Sweet 16? 

The first round as a whole featured three No. 11 seeds winning their first game, which in an of itself is not terribly unique given the modern trends but we could see something special if all of those teams are able to continue on to the Sweet 16. Three No. 11 seeds won their first game in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, but only one (Xavier) advanced to the Sweet 16. Then in 2022 we saw three No. 11 seeds defeat the No. 6 seed yet again, and this time two of those squads continued their march on into the second weekend following second round wins (Michigan, Iowa State). All three of the No. 11 seeds to win in this year's tournament are in action on Saturday, with varying likelihoods of adding their name to the list of double-digit seeds to make the Sweet 16. 

NC State is the only one of the group that is a favorite to win, according to the oddsmakers, as the Wolfpack face No. 14 Oakland (7:10 p.m. ET, TBS) following the Golden Grizzlies' upset of Kentucky. The odds are a little bit longer for No. 11 Duquesne, which will have its hands full with No. 3 Illinois (8:40 p.m. ET, TNT) after the Dukes were able to knock off No. 6 in one of the early games from Thursday's first round. Then the final No. 11 seed Oregon will be in action in one of the last games of the night, taking on No. 3 Creighton (9:40 p.m. ET, TBS) in a game that features Ducks' coach Dana Altman going up against the program where he was head coach from 1994-2010. 

Kansas' encore and Gonzaga's Sweet 16 streak collide 

With star forward Kevin McCullar Jr. ruled out for the rest of the season, many were quick to bury Kansas' chances to make the Sweet 16, and some even went as far to doubt their chances of making it out of the first round. But after a thrilling and controversial finish against Samford, the shorthanded Jayhawks escaped with a win and now face Gonzaga (3:15 p.m. ET, CBS) in a matchup between two of the active coaches with the most NCAA Tournament success. Bill Self has led Kansas to the Sweet 16 in 11 different tournaments since taking over in 2003-04, advancing on to the Final Four in four of those years and winning two national championships (2008, 2022). Gonzaga coach Mark Few has yet to win a national championship, but he's made the Sweet 16 in eight consecutive tournaments with two Final Fours and national runner-up finishes in that run. 

Both Kansas and Gonzaga were trendy picks to lose to their double-digit foes in the first round. Gonzaga, unlike Kansas, did not give its opponent McNeese State a chance to even consider the upset in a wire-to-wire blowout win. Now the competition for both teams has jumped in a big way, and there's only enough room in the South Region for one of these two modern powers to advance to the Sweet 16. It's blue blood vs. new blood with two Hall of Fame coaches and the best stage in sports, so while a Cinderella story for McNeese or Samford would have added some charm this is the kind of heavyweight fight we love to see on the weekend in the NCAA Tournament.  

Check out the full TV and streaming schedule for Saturday's second round games below. 

Saturday's NCAA Tournament streaming schedule

Spectrum Center -- Charlotte | CHI Health Center -- Omaha | PPG Paints Arena -- Pittsburgh | Delta Center -- Salt Lake City

Time (ET)GameTV / Stream
8:40 p.m.(11) Duquesne vs. (3) Illinois
TNT (watch live)
9:40 p.m.(11) Oregon vs. (7) Creighton
TBS (watch live)