With the first round of action just about completed, the field of 64 teams that will compete in Round 2 of the 2014 NCAA tournament is beginning to come to fruition. This is the time to get your March Madness bracket prepped and ready.
Before you print your sheet and begin inking in which teams will progress into the later rounds of the tournament, be weary of slumping favorites and Cinderella candidates. When these teams meet, brackets can get busted pretty quickly.
Let's take a look at the complete second round of the tournament and predict the winner for each game, followed by some analysis for a few crucial matchups.
Round 2 Predictions
|South||Albany 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||North Dakota State|
|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||St. Joe's|
|East||UW-Milwaukee vs. Villanova||Villanova|
|Midwest||TBD vs. Wichita State||Wichita State|
|Midwest||Kansas State vs. Kentucky||Kentucky|
|Midwest||NC State 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|
Sean O'Donnell's Predictions
Round 2 Analysis
Many predictions are easy in the early stages of the NCAA tournament. For example, every No. 1 seed will win its first game. Don't get cute with your bracket and pick a No. 16 seed to upset any of them—it won't happen.
The same can be said for all of the tournament's No. 2 seeds. Even though Villanova has been struggling lately, it is still a far superior team than Milwaukee. No. 3 and 4 seeds can be a little tricky, but each one has a favorable Round 2 matchup and all should advance.
Beware of No. 5 Oklahoma. The Sooners have a strong chance of being upset by a surging North Dakota State team that features a deep roster and plays well-balanced basketball.
North Dakota State will beat Oklahoma.— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) March 16, 2014
No. 6 Massachusetts could also find itself in trouble should Tennessee advance to Round 2. The Volunteers had a great late-season run, and the Minutemen have zero momentum after a brutal 85-77 loss to George Washington in the conference tournament.
The two No. 7 seeds that have the biggest chances of being upset are Connecticut against a very good St. Joseph's squad and Texas against an unpredictable Arizona State team.
The eighth-versus-ninth seed matchups are always difficult to predict.
This year, look for the defensively sound No. 9 Pittsburgh Panthers to oust No. 8 Colorado. Also, Oklahoma State has a great chance of taking down Gonzaga due to the recent stellar play of Marcus Smart and Co.
No. 8 Kentucky and No. 8 Memphis should be tested by Kansas State and George Washington, respectively; however, both teams have the necessary firepower to fend off the No. 9 seeds.