The 2014 NCAA tournament has been nothing short of excellent and should only continue to get better with the field narrowed down to 16 teams after the first weekend of play.
Expect the contenders to truly separate from the pretenders in the Sweet 16, however, as there are still a few programs lurking around that do not have the capability of winning it all.
Keep reading for a look at where you can catch all the Sweet 16 action, check out some predictions on the outcome of each game and much more.
|2014 NCAA Tournament - Sweet 16 Schedule and Predictions|
|Date||Regional Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Odds||Predicted Winner|
|Thu, March 27||(11) Dayton vs. (10) Stanford||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Stanford -3||Stanford|
|Thu, March 27||(6) Baylor vs. (2) Wisconsin||7:47 p.m.||TBS||Wisconsin -3||Baylor|
|Thu, March 27||(4) UCLA vs. (1) Florida||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Florida -4||Florida|
|Thu, March 27||(4) San Diego State vs. (1) Arizona||10:17 p.m.||TBS||Arizona -6.5||Arizona|
|Fri, March 28||(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Michigan -2||Michigan|
|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||Kentucky|
|Fri, March 28||(4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia||9:57 p.m.||TBS||Michigan State -1.5||Michigan State|
|ESPN and ScoresandOdds|
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Top Sweet 16 Matchup: Baylor vs. Wisconsin
The Baylor Bears and Wisconsin Badgers are getting set to face off in what should be one of the premier games of the upcoming round. Both teams have been playing immensely well over the first week of the tourney and are looking to carry that momentum into the Sweet 16.
Wisconsin especially proved that it has the toughness and grit required to win a championship, battling back from 12 points down at the half against a quick, athletic Oregon team in the third round.
Head coach Bo Ryan gave high praise to his players after that gutsy, 85-77 victory, as per Nancy Armour of USA Today Sports: "To be able to handle that smack in the face in the first half, and come back and deliver one of our own says a lot about our group."
It is doubtful, however, that the Badgers could survive falling into such a deficit again—especially against the Bears. They are coming off a whopping 30-point victory over the No. 3-seeded Creighton Bluejays, a squad that many had pegged to make a Final Four run coming out of the Western Region of the bracket.
While Baylor is mostly known for its prowess on the offensive end, the team banded together on defense and utilized a zone look to confuse Doug McDermott, the nation’s leading scorer, and his band of Bluejays.
Creighton was held to its second-lowest scoring output of the 2013-14 campaign, while McDermott was only able to score 15 points—nearly 12 points lower than his season average.
Isaiah Austin, Baylor’s 7’1” center, credited his entire team for the successes in that third-round matchup, as per Jeff Potrykus of the Journal Sentinel: "It's a team sport and all five people played hard. We were running out contesting shots and making everything difficult for everybody."
If the Bears can clamp down again, it will be tough for Wisconsin to get any easy looks at the basket. Even if the Badgers are getting some points on the board, the biggest X-factor in this contest is likely to be Baylor’s senior guard Brady Heslip.
The marksman is capable of lighting it up from deep, as evidenced by his 5-of-7 shooting performance against Creighton. He is connecting on 46.8 percent of his shots from distance during the 2013-14 campaign, surprisingly hitting those at a higher clip than his field-goal attempts (45.7 percent).
Shot Analytics took a look at Heslip’s hot zones and percentages prior to the Big Dance:
Heslip seems to live for the big moment too, having once hit nine three-pointers in a game during the Bears’ 2012 run to the Elite Eight. Now that he is back for one last shot at glory, it is doubtful that the Canada native shrinks from the spotlight.
If he’s locked in, expect Baylor to waltz into the Elite Eight for the second time in three years. This team has what it takes and the experience; now it has to face its toughest test yet.
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