The excitement leading into the March Madness bracket was through the roof, and the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament has lived up to the lofty expectations set for the postseason event.
With the first three rounds of competition completed, the field has been narrowed down to the Sweet 16. Thursday and Friday will feature eight exciting games that will determine which eight programs will advance to the next round.
Here is all the vital bracket information, the full Sweet 16 schedule and the most intriguing matchup for this round of action.
All Your Bracket Essentials
|2014 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Schedule|
|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|
Most Intriguing Sweet 16 Matchup: No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Michigan State
The final and most intriguing game of the Sweet 16 will be Friday’s matchup between the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers (30-6, 16-2 ACC) taking on the No. 4 seed Michigan State Spartans (28-8, 12-6 Big Ten).
Virginia comes into this game as one of the best teams in the nation defensively, but it will face its toughest test of the season against a Michigan State program that has momentum on its side.
Gregory Kelser of Fox Sports Detroit understands the kind of matchup that is on the horizon:
As well as the Cavaliers defend, the team has struggled to put up offensive numbers consistently, averaging just 65.8 points per game and ranking 295th in the nation in that category. No matter how you slice it, those numbers are atrocious.
Not only are the Spartans the more dangerous offensive unit (averaging 76.2 points per game), but the team is also one of the most efficient programs, ranking 31st in the country with a field-goal percentage of .474.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo spoke to Gillian Van Stratt of MLive.com after the team’s hard-fought victory over Harvard in the third round:
You know what we did late, we executed. We ran that play for Harris. Trav executed a couple plays. I learned that they dug back down, that they could take a blow and get back on their feet. I was happy for them.
Virginia will not alter its game plan too much for the Spartans. With Michigan State boasting an offensive unit that moves the ball well and attacks the glass with ferocity, though, the Cavaliers must be ready to make adjustments as the game progresses.
Izzo is no stranger to the Sweet 16, and the veteran coach will have his boys prepared to throw different sets and offensive attacks at the less-experienced Virginia team. If the Spartans can shake the Cavaliers’ confidence early, Izzo will put the program in a position to achieve victory.
This Sweet 16 battle will be one of the best all tournament.
Predicted Final Score: Michigan State 76, Virginia 70
*Stats via ESPN.com.