There were high expectations surrounding the 2014 NCAA tournament, and as the postseason reaches the Sweet 16, the games have been even more exciting than fans could have dreamed.
With top seeds making it through a barrage of tests and several Cinderella programs in the midst of dream runs, college basketball fans are ready to witness eight of the most exciting games the Sweet 16 has to offer.
Here is all the vital bracket information college basketball fans need, the complete fourth-round schedule, predictions and odds for the next step on the road to a national championship.
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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||UConn|
|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
Unheralded Matchup to Watch: No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Connecticut
Of the eight matchups in the Sweet 16, the battle garnering the least amount of attention is the meeting between the No. 3 seed Iowa State Cyclones (28-7, 11-7 Big 12) and the No. 7 seed Connecticut Huskies (28-8, 12-6 AAC).
Fans—and even reporters like CBS Sports’ Jeff Borzello—will be pleasantly surprised by this potential thriller:
DeAndre Kane vs. Shabazz Napier. Yep yep. I'll be at MSG for it.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 23, 2014
Iowa State is coming off a huge victory over North Carolina, and the team’s confidence is through the roof. Led by the outstanding play of senior guard DeAndre Kane in both the offensive and defensive zones, the Cyclones will not be intimidated by the Sweet 16 stage.
UConn won’t be scared of this matchup, either.
The Huskies are only as good as star senior guard Shabazz Napier makes them on each possession, and this matchup will be his chance to cement his legacy. If Napier wants to be held in the same regard as a school legend like Kemba Walker, Friday’s matchup is the next step.
After the team’s win over No. 2 seed Villanova, UConn head coach Kevin Ollie told Jeff Jacobs of The Hartford Courant about what his star player brings to the table:
He was just unbelievable. Crucial threes, dagger threes, it look like he was 30 feet out. Shabazz is tough-minded. A lot of things he has been through in life made him that way. His mother Carmen is one of the toughest ladies around, and he'll be the first to say that, how he was raised, what she had to do keep their home together. He gets that toughness from her.
Iowa State has a high-powered offense that averaged 82.9 points per game this season, but the program has struggled against teams like Kansas (lost twice to the Jayhawks) with superior defensive game plans.
Who ya got?
Napier has 49 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and five steals in two tournament games and is leading by example. Players around him are playing harder after watching him leave it all on the floor, and his tenacity is contagious.
The battle between Iowa State and UConn will be intense, but the Huskies should be able to secure the win late in the game. Judging from the tournament so far, the win should come on a last-second shot from Napier.
Prediction: UConn 77, Iowa State 75
Stats via ESPN.com.