The first three rounds of the 2014 NCAA tournament have lived up to the lofty expectations of college basketball fans, but the marquee matchups in the Sweet 16 have the excitement level climbing once again.
With several top seeds securing their place in the next round and a few Cinderella teams continuing their dream run into the Sweet 16, the competition from now on will be the best basketball of the season.
Here is all the updated bracket information, complete remaining schedule for the entire tournament and the odds for each Sweet 16 matchup.
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|Date||Regional Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Odds|
|Thu, March 27||(11) Dayton vs. (10) Stanford||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Stanford -2.5|
|Thu, March 27||(6) Baylor vs. (2) Wisconsin||7:47 p.m.||TBS||Wisconsin -3.5|
|Thu, March 27||(4) UCLA vs. (1) Florida||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Florida -5|
|Thu, March 27||(4) San Diego State vs. (1) Arizona||10:17 p.m.||TBS||Arizona -6|
|Fri, March 28||(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Michigan -1.5|
|Fri, March 28||(7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State||7:27 p.m.||TBS||Iowa State -1|
|Fri, March 28||(8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Louisville -5|
|Fri, March 28||(4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia||9:57 p.m.||TBS||Michigan State -2.5|
|Date||Regional Finals||Time (ET)||TV||Odds|
|Sat, March 29||Regional Final - TBD||6 p.m.||TBS||n/a|
|Sat, March 29||Regional Final - TBD||8:30 p.m.||TBS||n/a|
|Sun, March 30||Regional Final - TBD||2:10 p.m.||CBS||n/a|
|Sun, March 30||Regional Final - TBD||4:55 p.m.||CBS||n/a|
|Date||National Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Odds|
|Sat, April 5||National Semifinal - TBD||6 p.m.||TBS, TNT, truTV||n/a|
|Sat, April 5||National Semifinal - TBD||8:30 p.m.||TBS, TNT, truTV||n/a|
|Date||National Championship||Time (ET)||TV||Odds|
|Mon, April 7||National Championship - TBD||9:10 p.m.||CBS||n/a|
Source: NCAA.com and VegasInsider.com
Sweet 16’s Best Matchup: No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Connecticut
While there may be more intriguing matchups on paper in the Sweet 16—Kentucky plays Louisville on Friday—the best pure basketball game of the next round will be the battle 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).
While this game isn’t garnering the mainstream attention it deserves, the focus will be on two of the most talented players in the nation. When UConn’s Shabazz Napier and Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane go head-to-head, the ensuing battle will be intense.
The excitement for this matchup grows each day, and Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports did nothing to hide his enthusiasm for being assigned this game at Madison Square Garden:
DeAndre Kane vs. Shabazz Napier. Yep yep. I'll be at MSG for it.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 23, 2014
The key for UConn will be the play of Napier. The senior guard leads the Huskies in scoring (24.5 points per game), assists (4.5 per game) and even managed to rank second in rebounding with an average of 6.5 per game.
Add in Napier’s tenacity anywhere on the floor and his willingness to defend any player in the nation to the best of his ability, and the success of UConn in the Sweet 16 and beyond will hinge on the performance of the team’s star player.
After UConn stunned the No. 2 seed Villanova in the third round, head coach Kevin Ollie told Jeff Jacobs of The Hartford Courant about what Napier adds to the team:
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.
As well as Napier has played for the Huskies, Iowa State has a star of its own in senior guard DeAndre Kane. With top-scoring forward Georges Niang going down with a broken foot, the focus on Kane will be through the roof.
Who ya got?
Kane has also added a team-high average of 8.5 assists and six rebounds per game, and he is just as well versed on the court as Napier.
While basketball is a team sport, the focus for many college fans will be on the battle between Napier and Kane. Napier has more talent around him, though, and UConn will steal the win on Friday.
Predicted Final Score: UConn 77, Iowa State 75
*Stats via ESPN.com.