Now that the play-in games for the 2014 NCAA tournament are in the books, the field of 64 has come to fruition. This is the time to break out your bracket and get to work, as Wednesday's results brought about some shifts in the paths that some teams must take to reach the promised land.
Before you ink your printable brackets, be sure to look over the updated field. There may be even more surprises than were originally anticipated.
Let's take a look at updated predictions for the entire second round of the NCAA tournament and analyze some of the crucial games as March Madness continues.
Round 2 Predictions
|2014 NCAA Tournament 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||Cal Poly vs. Wichita State||Wichita State|
|Midwest||Kansas State vs. Kentucky||Kentucky|
|Midwest||N.C. State vs. St. Louis||St. Louis|
|Midwest||Manhattan vs. Louisville||Louisville|
|Midwest||Tennessee vs. Massachusetts||Tennessee|
|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
All right, let's go over some crucial information needed to ensure a great start to your bracket followed by some analysis of specific round of 64 matchups.
Despite some of the No. 1 seeds not exactly looking like, well, No. 1 seeds, they will all emerge victorious in the round of 64. Some of them could see an early exit in this year's tournament, but it won't happen right off the bat.
The same can be said for other top-ranked teams. In fact, it can be speculated that there are No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds that look stronger than their No. 1 counterparts.
The madness starts with the No. 5 seeds.
Beware of the West Region's No. 5 Oklahoma. The Sooners are poised to be upset by a very good—albeit underrated—North Dakota State team.
The Bison have a nicely balanced team, ranking 47th-overall in offense and 61st in the nation on defense. The most staggering statistic is the Bison were the most efficient team in the NCAA from the floor, hitting 50.9 percent of their shots.
Oklahoma has a powerful offense; however, the team could find itself behind early against a North Dakota State team that is very experienced and executes with precision.
Now that the Volunteers have secured the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region, Massachusetts is officially on upset alert. UMass has been unspectacular lately, dropping three of its last five games, including two to unranked teams.
Tennessee's stout 16th-ranked defense had the team rolling on a five-game winning streak before being derailed in a close 56-49 game by No. 1 Florida in the SEC tournament. The Volunteers should move on to the round of 32 here.
The 8-9 games are generally the toughest to predict; they usually feature two teams that match up very evenly.
This year, it looks as though one lower seed is a lock to earn a victory. The Pittsburgh Panthers stout defense and suddenly surging offense should be enough to take down a slumping Colorado team.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys are another team to consider. They have been brilliant since the return of Marcus Smart to the lineup, but face a tough, well-rounded Gonzaga team in the round of 64. If the Cowboys can light up the scoreboard early, they should be able to earn the win.