Sweet 16 Bracket: Odds and Predictions for Next Round of 2014 NCAA Tournament

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2014

Mar 23, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kentucky Wildcats celebrate as the defeat the Wichita State Shockers 78-76  in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

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.


All Your Bracket Essentials


Bleacher Report


2014 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Schedule
Date Regional Semifinals Time (ET) TV OddsPredicted Winner
Thu, March 27 (11) Dayton vs. (10) Stanford7:15 p.m. CBS Stanford -2.5Stanford
Thu, March 27 (6) Baylor vs. (2) Wisconsin7:47 p.m.TBS Wisconsin -3.5Baylor
Thu, March 27 (4) UCLA vs. (1) Florida9:45 p.m.CBS Florida -5Florida
Thu, March 27 (4) San Diego State vs. (1) Arizona10:17 p.m.TBS Arizona -6Arizona
Fri, March 28 (11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan7:15 p.m.CBS Michigan -1.5Tennessee
Fri, March 28 (7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State7:27 p.m.TBS Iowa State -1Iowa State
Fri, March 28 (8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville9:45 p.m.CBS Louisville -5Louisville
Fri, March 28 (4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia9:57 p.m.TBS Michigan State -2.5Michigan 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:

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.

When asked about the importance of defense in the NCAA tournament, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino told Jeffrey Greer of The Courier Journal about his team’s mindset:

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.

Kentucky won’t be able to bully Louisville, though.

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.