After an incredible start to the 2014 edition of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the focus has shifted to the odds and predictions for the Sweet 16.
With several top-seeded programs advancing to the next round and a few Cinderella teams still looking to make their dreams of winning the Big Dance come true, the final portion of the tourney will live up to the high expectations set by the first three rounds.
Here is all the bracket information every fan needs, a complete schedule for the Sweet 16 and a breakdown of the best matchup of the round.
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|Date||Regional Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Odds||Predicted Winner|
|Thu, March 27||(11) Dayton vs. (10) Stanford||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Stanford -2.5||Stanford|
|Thu, March 27||(6) Baylor vs. (2) Wisconsin||7:47 p.m.||TBS||Wisconsin -3.5||Baylor|
|Thu, March 27||(4) UCLA vs. (1) Florida||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Florida -5||Florida|
|Thu, March 27||(4) San Diego State vs. (1) Arizona||10:17 p.m.||TBS||Arizona -6||Arizona|
|Fri, March 28||(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Michigan -1.5||Tennessee|
|Fri, March 28||(7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State||7:27 p.m.||TBS||Iowa State -1||Iowa State|
|Fri, March 28||(8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Louisville -5||Louisville|
|Fri, March 28||(4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia||9:57 p.m.||TBS||Michigan State -2.5||Michigan State|
Source: NCAA.com and VegasInsider.com
Best Sweet 16 Matchup: No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky
The best matchup of the Sweet 16 will be the criminally underseeded No. 4 Louisville Cardinals (31-5, 15-3 AAC) taking on the No. 8-seeded Kentucky Wildcats (26-10, 12-6 SEC) on Friday, March 28.
Kentucky is coming off a huge win over then undefeated Wichita State, but the Wildcats have yet to face off against a program as fierce at both ends of the course as Louisville has been during the regular season and into the tournament.
Even ESPN is excited for this game:
Sweet 16 will feature a matchup of one of college basketball's best rivalries. Kentucky will face Louisville in Indianapolis. Let's go!— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 23, 2014
The Cardinals went through both Manhattan and St. Louis to reach the Sweet 16 and have looked like one of the strongest programs in the Midwest Region of the bracket. Add in the chip on their collective shoulders from being underseeded, and this team is dangerous.
You know, the NCAA, the one thing I've known throughout the years, being in this business, is people get very conservative, and they talk about‑‑ I've always felt‑‑ you hear the expression defense wins championships. A lack of offense keeps you from winning a championship. All these teams can guard. And it's really, really important. We beat Michigan and Wichita State and the teams before that, and we were a very good defense because of our offense. We didn't win because of our defense. Every team can play defense at this stage. So you've got to have great offense to win, and you've got to really execute and make free throws, do smart things.
On the other hand, Kentucky is comprised of a predominantly freshman core of players, but a win over the Shockers created serious confidence. While the Wildcats can be a force offensively when driving the lane, the real strength of the team is its size down low and its ability to battle in the low post for rebounds.
Who ya got?
As well as the Wildcats drove the lane against Wichita State, the Cardinals have a physical presence that will force Kentucky to reconsider its game plan. The Wildcats will get their points with so much raw talent on the roster, but Louisville’s ability to score in bunches will be the deciding factor.
Add in the experience of the Cardinals' lineup, and Louisville will have Kentucky on the ropes and pull out a huge victory for their national championship hopes.
Predicted Winner: Louisville 82, Kentucky 76
*Stats via ESPN.com.