The 2014 NCAA tournament is already through three exciting rounds, and this weekend promises to be just as enthralling with the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight taking place between Thursday and Sunday.
With several top seeds still alive and a few Cinderella teams in the midst of a dream run, the resulting matchups should have every college basketball fan entertained.
Here are the latest bracket updates, a full schedule for the remainder of March Madness and the odds for every game in the Sweet 16.
All Your Bracket Essentials
|Full 2014 March Madness Schedule and Odds|
|Date||Regional Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Odds|
|Thu, March 27||(11) Dayton vs. (10) Stanford||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Stanford -3|
|Thu, March 27||(6) Baylor vs. (2) Wisconsin||7:47 p.m.||TBS||Wisconsin -3|
|Thu, March 27||(4) UCLA vs. (1) Florida||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Florida -4.5|
|Thu, March 27||(4) San Diego State vs. (1) Arizona||10:17 p.m.||TBS||Arizona -6.5|
|Fri, March 28||(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Michigan -2|
|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 -1.5|
|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|
Marquee Sweet 16 Matchup: No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky
The best matchup of the Sweet 16 will be the battle between No. 4 seed Louisville Cardinals (31-5, 15-3 AAC) and the No. 8 seed Kentucky Wildcats (26-10, 12-6 SEC).
This in-state battle will be one of the wildest games of the tournament thus far. As ESPN’s stats department revealed, this is only the fourth time the past two defending national champions have played each other in the NCAA tourney:
Kentucky enters this matchup as the much younger team. Led by freshmen scoring tandem of James Young and Julius Randle, as well as the guard duo of brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison, the program struggled to find consistency for much of the season.
Wildcats head coach John Calipari did not give up on his players, and the team is hitting its stride at the perfect moment. Kentucky beat a tough Kansas State team in the second round and stopped the No. 1 seed Wichita State in the third round.
The toughest test will come against Louisville.
While the Cardinals have been dominate in the offensive zone, head coach Rick Pitino told Jeffrey Greer of The Courier Journal about his defensive game plan and how he views defensive play in college basketball:
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.
Louisville may not be the best defensive team in college basketball, but led by the elite play of senior guard Russ Smith, the Cardinals are one of the most explosive offenses in the sport, averaging 82.1 points per game (eighth in the nation).
Add in the .474 field-goal percentage and an average of 15.7 assists per game, and there is nothing that Kentucky will be able to do in order to limit Louisville’s offensive production when they are red hot.
The two teams are evenly matched in rebounds—the Wildcats average 41.3 rebounds per game and the Cardinals averaged 37.9—and the battle on the glass will be one of the major deciding factors.
While the freshmen stars of Kentucky will give the Cardinals a run for their money, Louisville is the better all-around team and will walk away with the victory.
Predicted Final Score: Louisville 80, Kentucky 76
*Stats via ESPN.com.
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