NCAA Brackets 2014: Updated Schedule and Predictions Following Selection Sunday

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NCAA Brackets 2014: Updated Schedule and Predictions Following Selection Sunday
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Let the madness of March begin. Selection Sunday revealed the official 2014 NCAA tournament field, giving way to the usual bracket mania men's college basketball brings at this time of year.

Now that all 68 teams have been chosen to participate in this epic epoch, it's easier to get a feel for which squads should advance furthest based on how difficult the draw is in their respective regions. There is a considerable amount of parity in the sport as of the 2013-14 season, but several marquee programs should be heavily favored to make deep runs.

Mike Wise of The Washington Post hinted at how many different tournament entrants are capable of capturing the ultimate prize:

What makes matters even more exciting is that there are some notables that rely heavily on freshmen or younger players, while others have built a foundation and have experienced cores of returnees poised for a deep tourney run.

Let's take a look at the updated schedule now that the matchups are set, along with some predictions regarding the major developments set to unfold in the coming weeks across the country.

 

All Your Bracket Essentials:

 

Bleacher Report

2014 NCAA Tournament TV Listings
Tuesday, March 18 (Dayton) Time (ET) Station
First Four (Game 1) 6:30 p.m. TruTV
First Four (Game 2) 9 p.m. TruTV
Wednesday, March 19 (Dayton) Time (ET) Station
First Four (Game 3) 6:30 p.m. TruTV
First Four (Game 4) 9 p.m. TruTV
Thursday, March 20 (Buffalo, Milwaukee, Orlando, Spokane) Time (ET) Station
Second Round 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. CBS
Second Round 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:55 p.m. TruTV
Second Round 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 9:15 p.m. TBS
Second Round 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:45 p.m. TNT
Friday, March 21 (Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis) Time (ET) Station
Second Round 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. CBS
Second Round 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:55 p.m. TruTV
Second Round 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 9:15 p.m. TBS
Second Round 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:45 p.m. TNT
Saturday, March 22 (Buffalo, Milwaukee, Orlando, Spokane) Time (ET) Station
Third Round 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. CBS
Third Round 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m. TNT
Third Round 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. TBS
Sunday, March 23 (Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis) Time (ET) Station
Third Round 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. CBS
Third Round 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m. TNT
Third Round 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. TBS
Third Round 7:30 p.m. TruTV
Thursday, March 27 (Memphis, Anaheim) Time (ET) Station
Sweet Sixteen 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. CBS
Sweet Sixteen 7:15 p.m., 9:55 p.m. TBS
Friday, March 28 (New York, Indianapolis) Time (ET) Station
Sweet Sixteen 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. CBS
Sweet Sixteen 7:15 p.m., 9:55 p.m. TBS
Saturday, March 29 (Memphis, Anaheim) Time (ET) Station
Elite Eight 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m. TBS
Sunday, March 30 (New York, Indianapolis) Time (ET) Station
Elite Eight 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m. TBS
Saturday, April 5 (Arlington) Times (ET) Stations
Final Four (Game 1), Final Four Game 2 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m. TBS, TNT, TruTV
Monday, April 7 (Arlington) Time Station
National Championship Game 9 p.m. CBS

Source: ChristianToday.com

 

Predictions

Wichita State Becomes First No. 1 Seed to Fall

BILL BOYCE/Associated Press

Good luck finding any sadder images from the Shockers' season than the one above. Even in the worst of moments during 2013-14, it seemed coach Gregg Marshall was just searching for something to tweak in the endless pursuit of perfection.

After becoming a stunning Final Four team a season ago, Wichita State answered the bell this year in a big way, posting an undefeated 34-0 record and roaring to the Missouri Valley Conference title. That gives the Shockers all the momentum in the world to make another deep run.

The only problem is they're saddled with what appears to be one of the most stacked draws in recent memory. Bleacher Report's Dan Levy chimed in about its difficulty:

Other No. 1 seeds have far easier paths to Arlington for the national semifinals; Wichita State wasn't so lucky. Second-seeded Michigan and No. 4 Louisville occupy the Midwest Region, and they squared off in the national championship game in 2013.

Not to mention, there's also Duke as the third seed, with prospective NBA lottery pick Jabari Parker capable of taking over a game at any time. There's no doubting the Shockers have capable talent of their own in standout point guard Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and leading scorer Cleanthony Early.

Even the round of 32 isn't safe, though. Freshmen-laden Kentucky is perhaps on the cusp of a breakout after losing the SEC title game to No. 1 overall seed Florida by just one point on Sunday.

As sensational as the Shockers have been in exceeding any and all expectations, the pressure is truly on now for them to thrive against the most tense of NCAA tournament tests. They may get to the Sweet 16, but the road to the Final Four is just too grueling to endure this time around.

 

Atlantic 10 Becomes Big Storyline

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

The mid-major conference has a whopping, unprecedented six teams in the tournament, which seems incredulous on the surface but is actually warranted.

Saint Louis was the regular-season champion, but tourney fixture VCU is still playing at a high level, George Washington is a great sleeper candidate as a No. 9 seed and Saint Joseph's beat the Rams in the conference tournament final.

Massachusetts and Dayton also sneaked in, each with 10-6 records in the conference and strong enough resumes to merit doing so.

Any of these clubs has a shot at making some noise, but all of them could lose as soon as the round of 32 given their matchups. The Billikens shouldn't be a fifth seed to fall to either Xavier or N.C. State, but a tough third-round showdown with Louisville likely looms.

Senior forward Rob Loe was disappointed in Saint Louis' buzzer-beater loss to St. Bonaventure in the conference tournament but is looking forward to playing better in the Big Dance.

Loe said, per InsideSTL.com's Brian Haenchen:

We wanted to play for another championship, but…we didn’t do what we wanted to do. We’ve got that fire in our practices. We just had a great practice today, so we hope we can perform for the rest of the week and perform better on Thursday.

CBS Sports expert Seth Davis and USA Today's Eric Prisbell doubt VCU's chances against 31-2 upstart No. 12 seed Stephen F. Austin—despite the fact that Rams coach Shaka Smart has guided the program to a Final Four in the past:

There seems to be a slight lack of respect for the A-10 across the board. Perhaps these teams just beat each other up in conference play and aren't all as good as advertised.

It's already significant that a conference like this sent so many teams to the tourney, and it suggests that parity is indeed a more prominent theme in modern college basketball. Now the teams given the privilege to play by the selection committee have to go on the hardwood and back it up.

 

Florida Wins National Championship

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Gators have been the best team all year long and defeated Kentucky on Sunday to cap off a perfect regular season and conference tournament in the SEC. Four seniors headline the squad, along with two-time NCAA championship-winning head coach Billy Donovan.

Chris Harry of GatorZone.com was told by Donovan that the feat accomplished Sunday would likely never be replicated:

This win-or-go-home scenario is ideal for Florida, and it got a bit of a scare in the SEC tourney final versus the Wildcats, edging them out 61-60. Such a tight outcome should rid the Gators of any sense of complacency, and they will be champing at the bit to get after their 16th-seeded opponent in Round 2.

Which team has the best shot of stopping Florida short of the Final Four?

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Defeating Kentucky further proved that the paradigm in college basketball isn't necessarily skewed toward the one-and-done teams. Casey Prather is the leading scorer for Florida and he's a senior, while Patric Young is the imposing athletic presence the team needs on the interior in the final year of his eligibility.

Will Yeguete provides key energy in the rotation and point guard Scottie Wilbekin helps guard the perimeter and create opportunities for others on offense in addition to his own.

With so many individual scoring options to devastate opponents and a fifth-place ranking nationally in KenPom.com's adjusted defensive efficiency statistic, there's little the Gators can't do.

Kansas is their biggest threat in the South Region but may be in early danger without star freshman big man Joel Embiid. Jayhawks head coach Bill Self remains optimistic the prodigy will return next week:

That is quite a lot of uncertainty, though, and Kansas will have to rely a ton on Andrew Wiggins, another first-year phenom who has improved at an impressive rate toward the end of the season.

As hinted at before by Davis, Stephen F. Austin could make a run to the Sweet 16 and encounter Florida, and a myriad of other upsets are possible that would bolster the Gators' chances of advancing.

The top-ranked favorites even have some young, prominent contributors in sophomore sharpshooting guard Michael Frazier II, dynamic forward Dorian Finney-Smith and freshman point guard Kasey Hill. Florida's combination of experience and youth has been a unique blend that has lifted the Gators a cut above the rest. A favorable regional layout and the vengeance factor of making it to the Elite Eight the past three years, only to lose each time, will continue to drive the Gators.

By the end of the NCAA tournament, it should be Gainesville who gains a third national-title banner to hang in the rafters. Among the many capable contenders that Wise hinted at earlier and the potential pitfalls along the way, Donovan's bunch is best built to weather March Madness' chaotic storm.

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