March Madness 2014 Bracket: Updated Storylines and Picks for NCAA Tournament

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March Madness 2014 Bracket: Updated Storylines and Picks for NCAA Tournament
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, March Madness. With an equal portion of jubilance and heartbreak that can be witnessed during each and every matchup, the NCAA tournament is more emotional than a daytime soap opera.

And after less than 24 hours into the Big Dance, the bracket has already taken a much different form than anyone could have predicted.

 

All Your Bracket Essentials:

Bleacher Report

In fact, through just the first four games of the round of 64, millions of brackets had already taken a turn for the worse, as SportsCenter points out:

After the tip of the tournament with No. 11 Dayton taking out No. 6 Ohio State, the Flyers put their stamp on the NCAA tournament lore. With Cincinnati falling to Harvard shortly after, the Flyers were also the unofficial kings of Ohio, as Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports notes:

While the early games in the tournament have already provided plenty of drama, it won't stop over the course of the first weekend and into the Sweet 16. Here's a look at a few of the latest storylines and Day 2 picks for the NCAA tournament.

NCAA Tournament Day 2 Second-Round Schedule
Matchup Time (ET) TV Live Stream Pick
No. 14 Mercer vs. No. 3 Duke 12:15 p.m. CBS NCAA.com Duke
Nebraska No. 11 vs. No. 6 Baylor 12:40 p.m. truTV NCAA.com Baylor
No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 7 New Mexico 1:40 p.m. TBS NCAA.com Stanford
No. 16 Weber St vs. No. 1 Arizona 2:10 p.m. TNT NCAA.com Arizona
No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 6 UMass 2:45 p.m. CBS NCAA.com UMass
No. 14 UL-Lafayette vs. No. 3 Creighton 3:10 p.m. truTV NCAA.com Creighton
No. 15 Eastern Ky. vs. No. 2 Kansas 4:10 p.m. TBS NCAA.com Kansas
No. 9 Oklahoma St. vs. No. 8 Gonzaga 4:40 p.m. TNT NCAA.com Oklahoma St.
No. 9 Geo. Wash. vs. No. 8 Memphis 6:55 p.m. TBS NCAA.com Memphis
No. 16 Cal Poly vs. No. 1 Wichita St. 7:10 p.m. CBS NCAA.com Wichita St.
No. 11 Providence vs. No. 6 North Carolina 7:20 p.m. TNT NCAA.com UNC
No. 12 SF Austin vs. No. 5 VCU 7:27 p.m. truTV NCAA.com SF Austin
No. 16 Coastal Carolina vs. No. 1 Virginia 9:25 p.m. TBS NCAA.com Virginia
No. 9 Kansas St. vs. No. 8 Kentucky 9:40 p.m. CBS NCAA.com Kentucky
No. 14 N.C. Central vs. No. 3 Iowa St. 9:50 p.m. TNT NCAA.com Iowa St.
No. 13 Tulsa vs. No. 4 UCLA 9:57 p.m. truTV NCAA.com UCLA

NCAA.com

 

Who Will Be This Year's Cinderella?

It may be early, but there are a few clear candidates to wear this year's glass slipper.

With two No. 12 seeds in Harvard and North Dakota State winning along with No. 11 Dayton pulling off the stunner over in-state foe Ohio State, all three stand a shot at making the Sweet 16 and possibly even more.

In fact, NDSU clearly has no problem being this year's breakout team, per their official Twitter account:

The Bison are a stellar shooting team that hung around just long enough with Oklahoma to eventually pull off the huge upset. SportsCenter points out that the team has never been to the tournament before in the history of the program:

While NDSU is a fresh team with high hopes, Harvard and Dayton look like teams with both confidence and the firepower to take down any team.

The Crimson made it to the round of 32 last season before falling short. But with Tommy Amaker still at the helm, Harvard is a more than capable team going up against Michigan State. Unfortunately for the Crimson, the offensive buzz saw of Adreian Payne might be what holds them back from a Sweet 16 berth.

As for Dayton, the Flyers' triumph over Ohio State means they will face off with Syracuse, another program that struggled down the stretch. The Flyers will need another great defensive effort to stop C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis and the Orange, but it's not quite as daunting as facing other No. 4 seeds like MSU or Louisville would be.

Each team still has reason for optimism heading into Saturday's slate of games, but will need another resounding effort to reach the second weekend of play.

 

Can the Spartans Run the Table After Huge Win?

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Everyone's favorite team to win the entire tournament—even President Barack Obama—got off to a rousing start by dismantling Delaware, 93-78, and advancing to the round of 32 in Spokane.

The Spartans look like much more than just a trendy pick after the win, and that's thanks to the efforts of Payne. The senior finished with 41 points against Delaware, a school record during a tournament game and the highest in any contest since 1995, per the team's official Twitter account:

With Payne playing some of the best basketball of his career, it's only a matter of time before Gary Harris breaks out on the big stage. The sophomore put up 10 points during the opener for Sparty, but he has averaged 17.1 points throughout the season.

The future lottery pick in the NBA draft stayed one more season with Tom Izzo and Michigan State for this purpose exactly, per Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News:

I came back because I feel like we have a chance to go to the national championship. And that’s one of my main goals and we’re all focusing on, working hard and doing whatever we have to do to win.

We still have six games left that we want to win. Going into the Big Ten tournament we said we were going to go on a nine-game winning streak, so we have three so far and got six more and I feel like we still have something to prove.

After coalescing late in the season, the Spartans appear to be one of the strongest teams in the tournament despite their No. 4 seed—much like last year's champion Louisville. Following a huge win over the Blue Hens, Michigan State looks the part as a national championship contender.

 

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