The first weekend of the NCAA tournament is when the upsets happen, but the Sweet 16 is when the major players in college basketball assert their dominance.
All you have to do is look at the schools on display, from new powers like Wisconsin and Michigan to traditional contenders like Florida, UCLA, Michigan State and Connecticut, to know that Thursday and Friday will not be for the faint of heart.
There is some new blood, like Dayton and Baylor, trying to throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing. It's all going to make for a fascinating two days of basketball.
Of course, if you are like most of the country, your bracket was busted long before the Sweet 16 was finalized.
Only 17 BRACKETS out of 11 million on ESPN have correctly chosen all of the 1st 12 Sweet 16 teams— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 24, 2014
With the Sweet 16 set following a wacky, wild and unpredictable weekend of basketball, here's a look at the schedule of games starting on Thursday, March 27.
|Date||Regional Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|Thu, March 27||South - No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 11 Dayton||7:15 p.m.||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Thu, March 27||West - No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Baylor||7:47 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Thu, March 27||South - No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA||9:45 p.m.||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Thu, March 27||West - No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 4 San Diego State||10:17 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Fri, March 28||Midwest - No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 11 Tennessee||7:15 p.m.||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Fri, March 28||East - No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Connecticut||7:27 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Fri, March 28||Midwest - No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky||9:45 p.m.||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Fri, March 28||East - No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Michigan State||9:57 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live|
All tournament games can be streamed live at NCAA March Madness Live by clicking here.
Biggest Matchups to Watch
Midwest Region: No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky
Despite having some of the best talent in the country throughout his career, Calipari's white whale has been Pitino.
This will be 4th meeting of John Calipari and Rick Pitino as head coaches in the tournament. Pitino has won 2 of the previous 3— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 24, 2014
The last time these two legendary head coaches met in the tournament was in the Final Four two years ago when Kentucky defeated Louisville en route to winning the national championship.
On the court, Louisville and Kentucky are playing like the championship contenders everyone expected them to be. The Cardinals have played at that level all year, though they did struggle in a seven-point win against Manhattan in the second round before easily disposing of Saint Louis in the third round.
The Wildcats are starting to play like the most talented team in the country, which is what was expected of them when the season started. Putting faith in so many freshmen, talented as they may be, is always dangerous.
Watching Calipari's group keep battling back against a terrific Wichita State team, including outscoring the Shockers 47-39 in the second half, speaks volumes about how far they have come. This isn't the same group that lost 10 games in the regular season.
East Region: No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Connecticut
There may be games between higher-seeded teams, even in the same region, but no matchup is more intriguing than Iowa State against Connecticut.
The Cyclones earned a controversial win over North Carolina in the third round, though that shouldn't take away from the brilliant offensive performance Fred Hoiberg's team had.
Playing without Georges Niang, Iowa State shot 46 percent from three-point range and had 16 assists on 29 made field goals. DeAndre Kane was fantastic, as ESPN Stats & Info showed on a shot chart:
DeAndre Kane 24 pts,10 rbds, 7 assists (3rd to do that in Tournament game since 2000- Draymond Green and Dwyane Wade) pic.twitter.com/jJiQcUYbZ4— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 24, 2014
On the other side, Connecticut was clearly underserved as a No. 7 seed. The Huskies are loaded with talent, led by Shabazz Napier. The star senior put up 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals hobbling on one leg against Villanova.
Iowa State's offensive firepower and depth, even without Niang, could be a deciding factor in this game. The Cyclones ranked fifth in the country with 82.9 points per game and have scored 178 points in two tournament games.
They still have four elite scorers in Kane, Melvin Ejim, Dustin Hogue and Monte Morris, who have combined to score 131 of the team's points in the tournament.
Connecticut's got one of the stingiest defenses in the country, allowing just 63.7 points per game in the regular season and ranking 24th in defensive efficiency.
It's a true battle of the unstoppable force and the immovable object and should be one of the best games of the tournament.
Note: All stats courtesy of SportsReference.com unless otherwise noted.
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