A lot of highly regarded teams fell along the way, but we made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. If the rest of the tournament goes over without another upset, this has already been one of the more unpredictable years for the Big Dance.
Brackets across the country have been left in ruins. If you still have all of your Final Four teams alive, you're either a prognosticating genius, or very lucky.
In any case, here's an updated bracket and the schedule for Thursday's and Friday's games.
|Games||Date, Times TBA|
|South Region: Memphis, Tenn.|
|No. 1. Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA||March 27|
|No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 11 Dayton||March 27|
|East Region: New York, N.Y.|
|No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Michigan State||March 28|
|No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 7 UConn||March 28|
|No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 4 San Diego State||March 27|
|No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Baylor||March 27|
|No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky||March 28|
|No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 11 Tennessee||March 28|
Looking ahead to the regional semifinals, these three matchups really stick out as potential classics.
No. 10 Stanford Cardinal vs. No. 11 Dayton Flyers
Everyone likes a Cinderella story. To a degree, we have two in this game. Sure the Cardinal hail from the Pac-12, but almost no one expected them to reach the Sweet 16.
Now here they are with a legitimate chance to make it to the Elite Eight.
Chasson Randle has been spectacular for the Cardinal. He has averaged 18 points, four steals and 4.5 assists through two games in the NCAA tournament.
The junior still has a year of eligibility left, but he's clearly doing exactly what he says in this tweet from David Lombardi:
“You play every game like it’s your last. I think we’re really doing that now as a team.” - Stanford’s Chasson Randle— David Lombardi (@DavidMLombardi) March 23, 2014
Randle had 13 points, four rebounds and six steals in the Cardinal's big 60-57 win over the Kansas Jayhawks on Sunday. Before the game, some of the Jayhawks had never heard of Randle.
Per Stanford alum, master trash-talker and Super Bowl champion Richard Sherman, they know him now:
Kansas players laughed and said they didn't know who Chasson Randle was.... Lol well they know now!— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) March 23, 2014
Dayton has, of course, been giant killers themselves. The Flyers have bested Ohio State and Syracuse en route to the Sweet 16. Which upstart will continue their improbable run?
We'll have to wait until Thursday to find out.
No. 4 Louisville Cardinals vs. No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats
Rarely have we seen the battle of the Bluegrass state hold so much significance. Every time the Cardinals and the Wildcats meet, it's a big deal, but this game will decide who grabs a spot in the Elite Eight.
This will undoubtedly be one of the most important meetings in the rivalry's long history.
The defending champion Cardinals are hitting their stride. They have won seven games in a row, and only one opponent in that stretch has stayed within 10 points.
Montrezl Harrell has been a man on the block. In his last three games, he's averaging 14.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and three blocks per game. He'll need to be big time against Kentucky's frontcourt.
Julius Randle has been aggressive, and his play was instrumental in helping the Wildcats hand Wichita State its first loss of the season.
He had 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against the Shockers.
This will be the second meeting this season between Louisville and Kentucky. It seems like a long time ago, but on December 28, the Wildcats handed Louisville a 73-66 loss in Lexington. In that game, Kentucky held a 44-36 edge on the glass.
Harrell will be primarily responsible for curving that advantage in the rematch. He had just six points and four rebounds in the first game. The matchup between he and Randle could decide the outcome.
No. 3 Iowa State Cyclones vs. No. 7 UConn Huskies
The Cyclones and Huskies had to endure tough third-round opponents to make it to the Sweet 16. Thanks to big-time performances from backcourt stars, the two teams came out on top.
For Iowa State, DeAndre Kane was huge against North Carolina on Sunday.
He had 24 points and 10 rebounds. The latter statistic was especially important considering the Cyclones had to play without injured forward Georges Niang. He broke his foot in the second round win over North Carolina Central.
Kane stepped up with scoring and on the glass to help eek out the 85-83 win over UNC.
Shabazz Napier continues to do everything for the Huskies. He lit up Villanova in the third round with 25 points to help the Huskies best their former Big East rivals.
It was an especially big performance considering in three previous meetings with Nova, Napier was averaging 3.3 points and shooting just 17 percent from the field.
He stepped it up big on Saturday and led his team to the Sweet 16.
The Kane vs. Napier matchup sounds like a battle of fictional characters, but the one whose game is most real will give his team a huge edge.
Expect the ball to be in these young men's hands in crunch time. Their execution will weigh heavily on the result.
Iowa State's offense is like a well-oiled machine. Even without Niang, the Cyclones didn't miss a beat on that end of the floor. If the Huskies can't slow them down, it's hard to imagine Napier and Co. being able to keep pace in a shootout.
To win, UConn has to slow the pace. If it doesn't, Iowa State will run the Huskies off the floor.
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