NCAA Tournament 2014: Upset Picks for Round of 32 and Updated Sweet 16 Schedule

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NCAA Tournament 2014: Upset Picks for Round of 32 and Updated Sweet 16 Schedule
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

If your 2014 NCAA tournament bracket has been busted, congratulations—you are just like everyone else. Now you are watching March Madness for the fun of it and trying to find a Cinderella who can crash the ball. 

Dayton, the No. 11 seed in the South Region, is already wearing a glass slipper after stealing a win from Ohio State and knocking off ACC powerhouse Syracuse to make its first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 1984. 

Sunday features a few games with teams that are poised to join the Flyers in the second weekend of the tournament. Here are the best bets to pull off an upset, followed by a look at the schedule for the Sweet 16. 

 

Upset Picks

No. 12 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 4 UCLA

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

There might not be a more evenly matched game in the round of 32 than Stephen F. Austin vs. UCLA. 

The Bruins rank 12th in the country with 81.8 points per game; the Lumberjacks are 45th with 76.5. But the gap is much closer when you look at points per 100 possessions, which has Stephen F. Austin at 13th (115.8) and UCLA at 14th (115.4). 

Both teams are led by terrific guards Desmond Haymon (Stephen F. Austin) and Kyle Anderson (UCLA). 

Stephen F. Austin needed a miracle at the end of regulation against VCU to make it here, but how often do we see a small school take advantage of an opportunity when it's given?

The Lumberjacks can score with the Bruins, or anyone else in the country, and have size on the inside with Tanner Clayton (6'9") and Jacob Parker (6'6") to match up with Anderson (6'9") and David Wear (6'10"). 

They can shoot the lights out, and as UCLA head coach Steve Alford told The Associated Press via ESPN.com, having such a short turnaround doesn't do the major-conference teams any favors: "The scary part is on one-day prep, you're preparing for somebody that they don't know anything but winning and that's a great credit to their coaching staff and players. You've got a culture in that locker room that hasn't experience any kind of loss since late November."

The Bruins have the athletes, but the Lumberjacks are battle-tested and aren't going to be intimidated by the big stage. 

Prediction: Stephen F. Austin 78, UCLA 74

 

No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 2 Kansas

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kansas is going to be that major-conference team in this tournament. You know the one I am talking aboutwhere it has to grind out victories against lesser competition because it's missing its best player and has a limited offensive game. 

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Granted, the one thing the Jayhawks do well on offense, they do really well. They scored 80 points against Eastern Kentucky in the first round without hitting a three-point field goal (0-of-7). 

However, that's not something to brag about. Kansas shot 60.4 percent from the field in the second round, held Eastern Kentucky to just 38.6 percent and could only muster an 11-point win against a vastly inferior opponent. 

With Embiid out, combined with Stanford's ability to shoot from deep (37.1 percent on three-pointers), the Jayhawks are going to have a difficult time pulling away in this game. 

When Kansas needs a big shot from beyond the arc, who is going to make it? That's not a question you want to be asking in the NCAA tournament. 

Prediction: Stanford 71, Kansas 68

 

No. 6 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Iowa State

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Iowa State was a potential Final Four team when the NCAA tournament started, while North Carolina struggled with inconsistent play from a talented young class all year. So what's changed heading into this third-round matchup?

Georges Niang broke his foot during Iowa State's second-round victory over North Carolina Central. 

The Cyclones aren't a one-man show, as four players averaged at least 10.9 points per game in the regular season, but Niang was a critical component of Fred Hoiberg's offense. His ability to shoot (47.4 percent), rebound (4.5 per game) and pass (3.6 assists per game) as a 6'7" forward isn't something you can replace. 

The Tar Heels know they can control the pace of the game with Niang out of the lineup. Roy Williams has the athletes to spread the floor against a weakened Iowa State team and the shooters to match the Cyclones point for point until the end. 

Williams' group is also an underrated defensive team. That's never been a huge area of concern for the North Carolina coach, but this year's Tar Heels ranked 55th in points allowed per 100 possessions (98.5). 

Taking away one of Iowa State's best offensive players is only going to make North Carolina's job easier. 

Prediction: North Carolina 78, Iowa State 72

 

Sweet 16 Schedule

Thursday, March 27 (Memphis, Anaheim) Time (ET) Station
Sweet 16 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. CBS
Sweet 16 7:15 p.m., 9:55 p.m. TBS
Friday, March 28 (New York, Indianapolis) Time (ET) Station
Sweet 16 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. CBS
Sweet 16 7:15 p.m., 9:55 p.m. TBS

 

Note: Stats courtesy of SportsReference.com unless otherwise noted. 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 


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