2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Sweet 16 2014: Breaking Down Each Region's Most Dangerous Team

Michigan head coach John Beilein, left, talks to Michigan guard Nik Stauskas (11) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State in the championship of the Big Ten Conference tournament on Sunday, March 16, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2014

After the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, seeding gets thrown out the window. Teams have made it to the Sweet 16 because they belong, so who cares if there is a number on the right side of their name that isn't appealing?

We pay too much attention to the number and name on the sheet instead of what teams have done to get here, how they are playing and who they are playing. 

Matchups define the NCAA tournament more than anything else, that's why a team like Mercer can beat Duke or why Dayton is playing in the Sweet 16. As we get ready to enter the second weekend of March Madness, here are the most dangerous teams left in each region. 

 

South Region: Dayton Flyers

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 22: Matt Kavanaugh #35,Vee Sanford #43, and Jordan Sibert #24 of the Dayton Flyers celebrate after defeating the Syracuse Orange 55-53 in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the First Niagara Center on March
Elsa/Getty Images

Florida is the No. 1 overall seed and hasn't lost a game since December, so we know how good the Gators are. But Dayton is proving to be one of those teams you don't want to play because its style is such a change of pace compared to what others like to play. 

Dayton's performance has been noticed by everyone in the country, including the most powerful man on the planet. 

Congrats to the @DaytonFlyers on a huge upset win! Devin Oliver, I may need to take you up on that pick-up game one of these days. -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 23, 2014

There's nothing remarkable about Dayton statistically. The Flyers ranked 71st in offensive efficiency and 108th in defensive efficiency, but they are able to adjust to their opponent. 

They shot 44 percent from three-point range against Syracuse, two days after shooting 44 percent from the floor and 76.5 percent from the free-throw line. 

If Dayton gets to play a Kansas team without Joel Embiid in the Sweet 16, one more upset and a trip to the Elite Eight wouldn't be as much of a surprise since we have seen what this team has already done. 

 

West Region: Wisconsin Badgers

Morry Gash/Associated Press

The true measure of a championship team is not how it performs in good times but how it responds against adversity. 

No team that clinched a berth in the Sweet 16 on Saturday had to show more resiliency than the Wisconsin Badgers. 

Bo Ryan's team was being outplayed in the first half against Oregon, trailing by 12 points at the half and giving up five three-point field goals. The Badgers buckled down in the second half, allowing just 28 points and three three-point field goals to an excellent shooting team. 

He's usually overshadowed by higher-profile coaches, especially in his own conference, but Ryan has quietly moved into the elite college basketball group. His message when the Badgers were down is the stuff of legend. 

Bo asked his team at halftime " what kind of bus ride home do u guys want" .. outstanding ,,@BadgerMBB @UWBadgers

— Chuck Freimund (@ChuckFreimund) March 23, 2014

Oh yeah, Wisconsin also scored 48 points in the second half. This is a very different team than Ryan usually brings into the tournament. It's not a slow, plodding defensive group hoping to score points. 

The Badgers ranked 10th in the nation with 116 points per 100 possessions, though this new offensive outburst has led to occasional lapses on defense, as evidenced in the Oregon game. 

They can shoot, shoot from deep and buckle down on defense when the game is on the line. That sounds like a winning formula for the NCAA tournament. 

 

East Region: Connecticut Huskies

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 22: Shabazz Napier #13 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts against the Villanova Wildcats during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the First Niagara Center on March 22, 2014 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by
Elsa/Getty Images

Michigan State got all the love in the East Region before the tournament, but if we are going by competition thus far, Connecticut looks like the most impressive team so far. 

The Huskies flew under the radar during the season because they played in the American Athletic Conference, which explains why they were underserved as a No. 7 seed. 

They enter the Sweet 16 on a wave of mixed emotions, coming off the high of beating Villanova by 12 points but seeing star player Shabazz Napier limping all over the floor. 

Don Amore of the Hartford Courant reported after UConn's win that Napier's right leg was getting a lot of attention. 

Napier had 25 points in 25 mins. Right shin is wrapped. #uconnmen

— Dom Amore (@AmoreCourant) March 23, 2014

Napier's incredible raw talent and ability to carry Connecticut, like Kemba Walker once did, make this team so dangerous. Assuming he's able to play pain free, or close to 100 percent, in the Sweet 16, there's no one the Huskies can't beat. 

Forget the Elite Eight, we could be talking about a Final Four run for Connecticut when all is said and done. 

 

Midwest Region: Michigan Wolverines

MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 20:  Nik Stauskas #11 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates a three point shot in the second half during the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center on March 20, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisco
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Even though Louisville seemed like it was underseeded as a No. 4, has anything the Cardinals have done in their first two games convinced you that this is a great team? They struggled to beat Manhattan and looked ugly against Saint Louis. 

Wins are wins, especially in the NCAA tournament, but the best team through three rounds of the Midwest Region has been Michigan. Wichita State and Kentucky still have to play, so that could change. 

The Wolverines weren't challenged in the first round against Wofford, though they took a talented young Texas team to the cleaners by shooting 50 percent from three-point range (14-for-28). 

We know Michigan can score, that's never been the question. What's been so impressive is the way its defense has played. The Longhorns shot 37 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three-point range. 

If this team can focus on the defensive side of the ball, with the way Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III are able to shoot the rock, the Wolverines are a national championship team in the making. 

 

Stats courtesy of SportsReference.com unless otherwise noted. 

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