March Madness 2014: Predicting Top Performers from Each Sweet 16 Matchup

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMarch 24, 2014

San Diego State’s Xavier Thames (2) takes a free throw during the second-round game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament against New Mexico State, in Spokane, Wash., Thursday, March 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak/Associated Press

Each of the 2014 NCAA tournament's 16 surviving teams have reached Round 4 in many different ways. Some have been riding stout defenses, others have been lighting up scoreboards and many have been maintaining a well-balanced unit.

Despite the differences in each team's strategy, they all have reached the Sweet 16 due to stellar performances from their top players. How these players perform will dictate which of these teams earn a coveted trip to the Elite Eight.

Let's take a look at all of the eight games on Thursday's and Friday's slate and predict the top performer and his statistics from each team.


No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA

Florida: Scottie Wilbekin

After a strong 21-point performance against the Pittsburgh Panthers, Wilbekin has a great deal of momentum going for him. His hot hand will be well on display against UCLA's 178th-ranked defense in the Sweet 16. Expect another big day from this Florida guard.

Prediction: 22 points, four rebounds, three assists


UCLA: Jordan Adams

Adams shot 8-of-12 from the field against Stephen F. Austin in the round of 32. He finished the game with 19 points and added five rebounds and three assists. However, he may struggle a bit against Florida's third-ranked defense.

Prediction: 14 points, four rebounds, two assists


No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 11 Dayton

Stanford: Chasson Randle

Stanford has a very well-rounded team and generally distributes the ball evenly on the offensive end. If anyone is to shine against Dayton, it will be Randle. He is a versatile player on both ends of the court and can ignite a scoreboard when he gets hot.

Prediction: 15 points, six rebounds


Dayton: Jordan Sibert

The Stanford defense has some holes, and Sibert is the guy who can take advantage of them. His perimeter shooting could be a big difference-maker in this contest. If he gets going, Dayton could be poised for yet another upset victory.

Prediction: 17 points, four rebounds


No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 4 San Diego State

Arizona: Aaron Gordon

Gordon has a knack of taking advantage down low, dominating the boards with aggressive play near the hoop. He'll continue his ways of getting things done underneath against San Diego State in the Sweet 16.

Prediction: 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists


San Diego State: Xavier Thames

Yes, this is an obvious choice. However, you simply can't deny Thames' brilliance so far in the 2014 NCAA tournament. Arizona has some weaknesses on defense, and Thames has the ability to get hot and take full advantage.

Prediction: 27 points, five assists


No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Baylor

Wisconsin: Frank Kaminsky

The Badgers have a well-balanced offense; however, if they are to continue their current offensive surge against Baylor, it will be down low. Kaminsky is the team's best option to put points up in the paint, and he'll get plenty of looks against the Bears.

Prediction: 17 points, seven rebounds


Baylor: Brady Heslip

To combat the Badgers' size and defensive prowess, Baylor will look to shoot from the perimeter often. Heslip is the team's best shooter from downtown, and he'll find the ball in his hands often during the Bears' Sweet 16 matchup.

Prediction: 20 points, three assists


No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Michigan State

Virginia: Mike Tobey

The Cavaliers will have to slow things down against the high-octane Spartans. In effort to get good offensive looks, Virginia will attempt to get things done in the paint. Tobey will be lurking there all day.

Prediction: 15 points, seven rebounds


Michigan State: Branden Dawson

Dawson's speed and offensive versatility will allow him to stand out in this contest. The Spartans thrive on fast breaks, and Dawson will benefit from most of them.

Prediction: 20 points, six rebounds


No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Connecticut

Iowa State: DeAndre Kane

Kane's 24-point, 10-rebound double-double was one of the most impressive performances in the round of 32. Now that he's facing Connecticut in the Sweet 16, Kane will have another chance to put up some gaudy numbers.

Prediction: 26 points, nine rebounds


Connecticut: Shabazz Napier

If the Huskies are going to hang with the high-octane Cyclones, Napier must put together a dominant performance. Iowa State isn't exactly known for its defensive prowess, so Napier will get plenty of chances to shine.

Prediction: 24 points, six rebounds


No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky

Louisville: Montrezl Harrell

If the Cardinals are going to right the ship against Kentucky, it will start with the play of Harrell. With Russ Smith distributing the ball and Luke Hancock demanding attention on the perimeter, Harrell will get enough looks to light up the scoreboard.

Prediction: 17 points, 11 rebounds


Kentucky: Aaron Harrison

The Harrison brothers have looked great lately. In this Sweet 16 contest, it will be Aaron who must step up. His perimeter shooting will be a necessity against Louisville. Expect him to take plenty of shots from downtown and connect on most.

Prediction: 21 points


No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 11 Tennessee

Michigan: Nik Stauskas

Stauskas is the driving force behind Michigan's resurgence. He's been solid from the field recently, but he has also distributed the ball with efficiency. Tennessee's defense is rather porous, and Stauskas will be the beneficiary.

Prediction: 18 points, nine assists


Tennessee: Antonio Barton

Barton may be a surprising selection here for the Volunteers; however, Tennessee may have to rely heavily on perimeter shooting to keep up with the Wolverines. Barton has looked good from behind the arc lately, and he will be heavily utilized in the team's upcoming contest.

Prediction: 22 points, four rebounds