Now that the field of 68 teams that will compete in the 2014 NCAA tournament has been revealed upon the conclusion of Selection Sunday, it's time to start filling out your March Madness bracket. Of course, a successful bracket begins with correctly picking as many Round 2 matchups as possible.
The more teams that are still alive on your bracket entering Round 3, the better the chances are of producing a high score going forward. There will be upsets and close contests early on. Identifying these matchups is a must before inking your winners on your printable bracket.
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Let's take a look at full Round 2 projections for the 2014 NCAA tournament followed by some brief explanations of some pivotal matchups.
Round 2 Predictions
|South||TBD vs. Florida||Florida|
|South||Pitt vs. Colorado||Pitt|
|South||Stephen F. Austin vs. VCU||VCU|
|South||Tulsa vs. UCLA||UCLA|
|South||Dayton vs. Ohio State||Ohio State|
|South||W. Michigan vs. Syracuse||Syracuse|
|South||Stanford vs. New Mexico||New Mexico|
|South||E. Kentucky vs. Kansas||Kansas|
|West||Weber State vs. Arizona||Arizona|
|West||Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State||Oklahoma State|
|West||North Dakota State vs. Oklahoma||Oklahoma|
|West||New Mexico State vs. San Diego State||San Diego State|
|West||Nebraska vs. Baylor||Baylor|
|West||Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Creighton||Creighton|
|West||BYU vs. Oregon||Oregon|
|West||American vs. Wisconsin||Winsonsin|
|East||Coastal Carolina vs. Virginia||Virginia|
|East||George Washington vs. Memphis||Memphis|
|East||Harvard vs. Cincinnati||Cincinnati|
|East||Delaware vs. Michigan State||Michigan State|
|East||Providence vs. North Carolina||North Carolina|
|East||NC Central vs. Iowa State||Iowa State|
|East||St. Joe's vs. UConn||UConn|
|East||UW-Milwaukee vs. Villanova||Villanova|
|Midwest||TBD vs. Wichita State||Wichita State|
|Midwest||Kansas State vs. Kentucky||Kentucky|
|Midwest||TBD vs. St. Louis||St. Louis|
|Midwest||Manhattan vs. Louisville||Louisville|
|Midwest||TBD vs. Massachusetts||Massachusetts|
|Midwest||Mercer vs. Duke||Duke|
|Midwest||Arizona State vs. Texas||Arizona State|
|Midwest||Wofford vs. Michigan||Michigan|
No. 9 Pittsburgh will upset No. 8 Colorado in the South Region. The Panthers offense has been surging of late, putting up at least 80 points in three-consecutive games before facing Virginia's stout defense in the ACC tournament.
Colorado simply does not have the firepower to keep up with the Panthers. The team most recently lost to a beatable Arizona squad, and only put up 43 points in the game.
Jamie Dixon: "I've got 6 tapes [of Colorado] sitting there for me. We're the underdog going in & we've got to play good basketball" #Pitt— Ken Laird (@Ken_Laird) March 16, 2014
No. 10 Arizona State will send No. 7 Texas home early in the Midwest Region. Despite losing three-consecutive games, the Sun Devils offense has a great chance to get back on track against Texas.
After giving up 86 points to Baylor in the Longhorns' most recent loss, Texas head coach Rick Barnes explained that his team didn't execute during a press conference with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
"You really have to give Baylor a lot of credit in the fact that they executed offensively and we didn't really do the things we needed to do."
If Texas comes out flat once again, Arizona State will be moving on to Round 3.
No. 9 Oklahoma State will take down No. 8 Gonzaga in the West Region. Since Marcus Smart's return from his three-game suspension, the Cowboys offense has been on fire. In each of their last seven games, they have scored at least 70 points.
Oklahoma State is gonna be a dangerous matchup for Arizona. Cowboys don't have much size but they are super tough.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 16, 2014
Even though Gonzaga has looked good lately, the team had some close contests with some far inferior teams. Smart and Oklahoma State's 16th-ranked offense will be too much for the Bulldogs 54th-ranked defense, and the Cowboys will move on to Round 3.