Although the Sweet 16 may not feature the same kind of alluring basketball-all-day-long kind of volume of the second and third rounds, it makes up for that in scintillating matchups.
After a quick look at all eight games, a strong argument could be made that Stanford vs. Dayton is the least attractive of the bunch. But that's hardly a knock on those teams—the Cardinal frontcourt trio of Dwight Powell, Stefan Nastic and Josh Huestis is probably still one of the more underrated units in the country, while the Flyers have a loaded backcourt and can shoot the lights out.
No matter what happens, we're going to get a rare double-digit seed in the Elite Eight, and hardly anyone is talking about it.
That speaks to the unbelievable slate of games awaiting us in the Sweet 16. It's not advised to miss any of the matchups.
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Sweet 16 Schedule and Live Stream
Note: All games can be live streamed at March Madness Live
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Thurs., March 27||No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 11 Dayton||7:15 p.m.||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Thurs., March 27||No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Baylor||7:47 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Thurs., March 27||No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA||9:45 p.m.||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Thurs., March 27||No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 4 San Diego State||9:55 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Fri., March 28||No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 11 Tennessee||7:15 p.m.||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Fri., March 28||No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Connecticut||7:47 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Fri., March 28||No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky||9:40 p.m.||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Fri., March 28||No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Michigan State||9:55 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live|
Top Games to Watch
(4) Louisville vs. (8) Kentucky
The narratives are endless. A heated in-state rivalry that once forced a fist fight between two dialysis patients (!), John Calipari vs. Rick Pitino, a matchup of the previous two national champions and a rematch of a December battle—although neither team is close to the same as it was then. Oh, and it's the same venue—Lucas Oil Stadium—where Kevin Ware suffered his horrific injury during last year's Elite Eight.
Looking into the history books doesn't offer much better separation, either, as there are numbers that favor both Pitino and Calipari, via ESPN Stats & Info and Kentucky.com's Mark Story:
Rick Pitino's is 11-0 all-time as a head coach in the Sweet 16— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 24, 2014
Of the three NCAA Tournament games in which Calipari and Pitino have faced each other, which ever one was coaching at Kentucky has won all 3— Mark Story (@markcstory) March 24, 2014
Living up to the hype of this dream matchup, which is propelled to legendary status because of the intrigue off the court and on the sidelines, is going to be difficult once the ball is tipped, but both teams are playing the best basketball of their season, offering just as much intrigue on the court.
Who ya got?
Although Julius Randle and Montrezl Harrell are beasts—almost literally—on the inside, the most compelling matchup may reside in the backcourt.
How will true freshmen Andrew and Aaron Harrison, who struggled with inconsistency all year but were so good in the win against Wichita State, deal with Louisville's dogged full-court pressure?
The answer to that question may decide the latest installment of one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.
(1) Virginia vs. (4) Michigan State
With the way the ACC and Big Ten tournament champions are both playing right now, this is a matchup that could easily have been for the national championship if the bracket was arranged differently. And it's in the freakin' Sweet 16.
And it's on at the same time as Louisville vs. Kentucky. Whoops.
That's where the beauty of the live stream comes in, as you're able to watch one game on your TV and one on your computer.
Despite what the seeds may tell you, preseason No. 2 overall Michigan State was considered a legitimate favorite at the start of the tournament. They struggled to stay healthy throughout the season, but with arguably the best starting five in the country—Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Denzel Valentine, Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne—now back on the court together, Sparty looks nothing like a four seed.
In fact, according to Vegas Insider, they have the third-best odds to cut down the nets in North Texas, meaning most believe, at the very least, this streak will continue:
Tom Izzo has never had a four-year senior graduate without reaching a final four. Can Sparty keep the streak alive? http://t.co/uX37evJGtY— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) March 17, 2014
But don't for a second overlook Virginia.
Tony Bennett's Wahoos may not play a fast-paced tempo that is always enjoyable to watch, but they get results. Since a 35-point blowout loss at Tennessee in December, Virgina has lost just two games—a four-point defeat at Duke in early January and a six-point overtime loss at Maryland to close out the regular season.
The Cavaliers won a solid ACC conference by two games, rolled through the conference tourney and are fresh off destroying Memphis in the third round.
In his recent press conference, Izzo talked about Virginia's accomplishments, via 247sports.com:
I think they're very worthy of the No. 1 seed. When you win the ACC by two games and you win both the regular season and the conference tournament, I think that bodes well for you. He's the ACC Coach of the Year. They've got guys that have been on the all ACC team. They've got Mitchell is on the all defensive team. They've got a Sixth Man award winner in Perrantes, who was on the all freshman team.
They've gotten it covered in every way you can have it covered, and I think the bottom line is this is one of the best defensive teams in the country, the best if you look at points per game.
Akil Mitchell, one of the best defenders in the country, is the kind of player who can slow down Payne, Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon can score and London Perrantes, an incredibly solid true point guard who is deadly from long range, is the engine that makes everything run.
Michigan State may be favored, but this is about as even of a matchup as you'll find. And the level of play will be Final-Four quality.