Don't rest yet—the madness has only just begun as the round of 64 gives way to the round of 32, where even better matchups await as more evenly matched teams get set to dance.
It is certainly hard to believe things could get better than what went down in Round 2 to kick things off, with No. 1 seeds being pushed to the brink and three No. 12 seeds pulling off stunning upsets.
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But an uptick in the action can certainly be expected despite the bar being so high, because many dream showdowns most had circled after the bracket reveal are about to come to fruition.
Strap in for the ride—Saturday isn't letting up.
|Time (ET)||Team A||Team B||TV||Predicted Winner|
|12:15 p.m.||No. 1 Florida||No. 9 Pittsburgh||CBS||Pittsburgh|
|2:45 p.m.||No. 4 Louisville||No. 5 St. Louis||CBS||Louisville|
|5:15 p.m.||No. 2 Michigan||No. 7 Texas||CBS||Texas|
|6:10 p.m.||No. 4 San Diego State||No. 12 North Dakota State||TNT||San Diego State|
|7:10 p.m.||No. 3 Syracuse||No. 11 Dayton||TBS||Syracuse|
|7:45 p.m.||No. 2 Wisconsin||No. 7 Oregon||CBS||Oregon|
|8:40 p.m.||No. 4 Michigan State||No. 12 Harvard||TNT||Michigan State|
|9:40 p.m.||No. 2 Villanova||No. 7 Connecticut||TBS||Villanova|
No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 7 Oregon
Bo Ryan's Wisconsin Badgers were one of the few top seeds that actually looked the part to open the tournament, as they cruised to a 75-35 victory over American thanks to 18 points from Traevon Jackson and 50 percent shooting from the field overall.
The joyride stops immediately.
Oregon knows a thing or two about blowing away the competition thanks to ranking just outside the top 10 in the regular season with an average of 81.8 points per game—which was reinforced in Round 2 with a 87-68 win over BYU, where Elgin Cook tallied 23 points and the Ducks also shot 50 percent overall.
Despite the seed discrepancy, this one may get ugly early. The Ducks love to get out and run, which clashes with the Badgers' methodical, plodding pace. Oregon senior Mike Moser has the right idea, as captured by Tom Silverstein and Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Moser said the closest thing Oregon has faced to Wisconsin's style of play is Arizona. He said the Wildcats like to control the tempo, too.
"They're really big and they have a slow style," Moser said of the Badgers. "Hopefully, we'll defend and get rebounds and play the way we can."
Oregon came within two points of beating Arizona back in February and took down the Wildcats in a rematch on March 8. The Ducks will once again have no issue jumping out to a lead, which the Badgers won't be able to match.
Prediction: Oregon 76, Wisconsin 68
No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Harvard
One of three No. 12 seeds to shock the world in Round 2 (hey, they did it first), the Harvard Crimson face a tough task against Michigan State after downing Cincinnati, 61-57.
The Spartans, who are widely considered a favorite to reach the Final Four, kicked things off with a 93-78 win over Delaware, fueled by a ridiculous 41 points from senior big man Adreian Payne.
John Niyo of the Detroit News put the alarming day in perspective:
Craziest part of Adreian Payne's obscene stat line today isn't the 41 pts or 17-for-17 FTs. It's that he did it all in 24 minutes.— John Niyo (@JohnNiyo) March 21, 2014
While Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead helped to explain why even a stout Crimson defense will have a tough time shutting Payne down:
Michigan State shooting 55/56/91. That's crazy. Payne just unstoppable, 27. Harvard plays much better D, but good luck with Major Payne— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) March 20, 2014
It's been a great run for Harvard, which is more than accustomed to quick turnarounds thanks to the Ivy League—it plays games on Fridays and Saturdays in order to not miss class time.
But against Tom Izzo's team, the Crimson defense simply won't have enough to stop the wealth of weapons the Spartans bring to the table.
Prediction: Michigan State 73, Harvard 69
No. 1 Florida vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh
Here is perhaps the most anticipated matchup of the tournament.
For what it is worth, the Panthers are in no way nervous about going into a matchup with the No. 1 team in the land, as Lamar Patterson told reporters after his team's Round 2, 77-48 win over Colorado, according to Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"Is there any intimidation level for you guys facing a No. 1 team?" a reporter asked of the matchup Saturday with top overall seed Florida.
"Intimidation?" Patterson said as he did a double-take. "Do you know anything about Pittsburgh basketball? No, we are never intimidated."
Pittsburgh is very, very well equipped to take down Florida thanks to Patterson, but mostly because of forward Talib Zanna. The senior is absurdly hot at the right time, scoring 15 or more points and grabbing five or more boards—with a high of 21—in each of his past four games.
To make matters worse for the Gators, Bill Donovan's team looked human in Round 2, as it had a close encounter with Albany before pulling away late to win 67-55.
Pittsburgh is hot, while Florida is sluggish and is due for a loss. Expect the Panthers to be more physical en route to a victory.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 64, Florida 62