The 2014 NCAA tournament is off and running, with 16 programs having already been eliminated and another 16 on their way out as the second round comes to a close on Friday.
Whether you are a gambler or just want to make some minor alterations to your printed bracket, it is worthwhile to take a closer look at Friday’s contests before the next slew of matchups begins.
Keep reading to check out the updated bracket, plus take a peek at some predictions on how the round of 64 will conclude and more.
|Game||Time (ET)||TV Info||Prediction|
|(14) Mercer vs. (3) Duke||12:15 p.m.||CBS||DUK 75 - MER 63|
|(11) Nebraska vs. (6) Baylor||12:40 p.m.||truTV||BAY 68 – NEB 62|
|(10) Stanford vs. (7) New Mexico||1:40 p.m.||TBS||STA 69 – NM 68|
|(16) Weber State vs. (1) Arizona||2:10 p.m.||TNT||ARI 72 – WEB 48|
|(11) Tennessee vs. (5) Massachusetts||2:45 p.m.||CBS||TEN 73 – MAS 62|
|(14) LA-Lafayette vs. (3) Creighton||3:10 p.m.||truTV||CRE 83 – LAL 78|
|(15) Eastern Kentucky vs. (2) Kansas||4:10 p.m.||TBS||KAN 79 – EKU 65|
|(9) Oklahoma State vs. (8) Gonzaga||4:40 p.m.||TNT||OKS 70 – GON 69|
|(9) George Washington vs. (8) Memphis||6:55 p.m.||TBS||GWU 74 – MEM 72|
|(16) Cal Poly vs. (1) Wichita State||7:10 p.m.||CBS||WIC 67 – CP 50|
|(11) Providence vs. (6) North Carolina||7:20 p.m.||truTV||PRO 73 – UNC 71|
|(12) Stephen F. Austin vs. (5) VCU||7:27 p.m.||TNT||SFA 69 – VCU 68|
|(16) Coastal Carolina vs. (1) Virginia||9:25 p.m.||TBS||VA 70 – CC 52|
|(9) Kansas State vs. (8) Kentucky||9:40 p.m.||CBS||KU 68 – KST 64|
|(14) North Carolina Central vs. (3) Iowa State||9:50 p.m.||TNT||ISU 80 – NCC 67|
|(13) Tulsa vs. (4) UCLA||9:57 p.m.||truTV||UCLA 74 – TUL 72|
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Must-Watch Matchup: Baylor over Nebraska
The Bears are one of the most intriguing teams in this tournament, having looked dead in the water for a decent stretch during the regular season. They turned it around after a 2-8 start in conference, finishing the season 9-9 and making a run to the Big 12 championship.
While Baylor eventually lost to Iowa State in that title matchup, this team gelled immensely during the final few weeks of the 2013-14 campaign and now looks to have tons of momentum going into the NCAA tournament.
BU employs a legit contingent of talent in its starting lineup, a unit that still has a few holdovers from its 2012 run to the Elite Eight. Brady Heslip and Cory Jefferson, Baylor’s top scorers, were both there for that magical journey and are back for one last shot at glory.
Heslip is especially dangerous this time of year, as the senior guard is capable of knocking down threes at a scary rate. The 6’2” sniper has never shot as great as he has this year, having knocked down 45.6 percent of his field goals and a scorching 47.3 percent of his three-point attempts.
Heslip is also hoisting up long-range bombs like it is his job, averaging nearly seven attempts from deep per contest. Shot Analytics charted his percentages from various zones on the court, and it is clear this young man simply does not miss often from beyond the arc:
Isaiah Austin will be the X-factor this tournament for the Bears, as the 7’1” center hasn’t had his best season in 2013-14. His numbers are down across the board compared to last year, but a good stretch of play could put this potential first-round NBA draft pick back on big boards everywhere.
ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla had high praise for Austin’s improvement over the past few weeks:
Isaiah Austin has become a really good college post player the last month. His shot blocking, passing and scoring in paint impressive!— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) March 16, 2014
Nebraska stands little chance against this hungry, motivated Baylor squad. While the Cornhuskers did have a decent run at the end of the year and made it to the Big Ten quarterfinals, they just aren’t equipped to handle a red-hot, battle-tested opponent like the Bears.
Should the Huskers find a way to pull off an upset against the favored Bears, it would likely be due to a scintillating performance from sophomore swingman Terran Petteway.
The 6’6” Texas Tech transfer has been a revelation for Nebraska, averaging 18.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists in his first season with the program.
Head coach Tim Miles has had nothing but praise for the Galveston native, as per Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald:
Petteway can get to the rim like no guy I've had. So he makes the pace look different. He can single-handedly get past guys. To have that element is huge. His acceleration is as good as any in our league. Plus, he has a great motor and loves work. Those are great characteristics.
However, Petteway isn’t going to be able to match up with all five Bears at once. NU only shoots a mediocre 33.9 percent from deep as a team, a concerning statistic that will likely become a glaring flaw when the ‘Huskers cannot find a way to match blows with Baylor—a group that shoots a shade under 40 percent from three-point land.
Which team will win this matchup?
That alone should be enough to back the Bears, as they are seemingly built for March Madness.
If you can still make changes to your bracket, give heavy consideration to Baylor going into the third round and possibly far beyond. It has the sheer talent to hang with anyone and will put that on display today.
Prediction: Baylor 68 - Nebraska 62