There are so many intriguing matchups slated for the Sweet 16 that you'd think the likes of Duke, Kansas and Syracuse were still alive in the tournament.
After myriad upsets in the first week of action, the second week of the Big Dance is set to get underway.
Despite the fall of the three aforementioned national powers, only one No. 1 seed has bit the dust so far, as the previously undefeated Wichita State Shockers fell to a Kentucky Wildcats team that is finally playing up to the level their talent suggests.
Can the Wildcats keep it going this week, though?
Here's a look at the schedule, viewing information and predictions for each game in the Sweet 16:
|Date||Regional Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Predictions|
|Thu, March 27||(11) Dayton vs. (10) Stanford||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Stanford|
|Thu, March 27||(6) Baylor vs. (2) Wisconsin||7:47 p.m.||TBS||Baylor|
|Thu, March 27||(4) UCLA vs. (1) Florida||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Florida|
|Thu, March 27||(4) San Diego State vs. (1) Arizona||10:17 p.m.||TBS||Arizona|
|Fri, March 28||(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Michigan|
|Fri, March 28||(7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State||7:27 p.m.||TBS||Iowa State|
|Fri, March 28||(8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Kentucky|
|Fri, March 28||(4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia||9:57 p.m.||TBS||Michigan State|
Click here to see an updated bracket, and read below for detailed previews for three of the weekend's biggest matchups.
Wisconsin is Headed for an Exit
The Wisconsin Badgers don't have the size and versatility to handle a red-hot Baylor Bears team. Scott Drew's team isn't getting the credit it deserves for its play in March, as the Bears have beaten each of their NCAA tournament opponents so far by an average of 22 points per game.
This tweet from the program breaks down the Bears' recent dominance even further:
Baylor has trailed for only 7:24 of 240:00 game time (3.1%) over 6 postseason games this year. #SicMarch— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) March 25, 2014
The Badgers' best player is versatile seven-footer Frank Kaminsky. After him, however, the team doesn't have the size and skill to contend with the Bears frontcourt. The 7'1" Isaiah Austin and the 6'9" senior Cory Jefferson have been huge for Baylor.
On the perimeter, Brady Heslip's long-range attack helped sink Creighton in the third round with five threes. When Heslip is making his shots at a high rate, the Bears are tough to beat. In fact, the team is 8-1 when Heslip makes five or more threes.
Against Nebraska in the second round, Heslip couldn't find the mark—going 0-for-6 from long range—but his teammates picked up the slack and still won by 14 points, proving how loaded this Baylor team really is.
Wisconsin is hard working team that is used to tough, physical and close games, but it will run into a talented bunch at the wrong time on Thursday.
Baylor will be moving on.
UCLA Will Need a Big Shooting Performance to Beat Florida
The UCLA Bruins could break Florida's 28-game win streak and advance to the Elite Eight, but they will need a stellar performance from beyond the arc in order to do it.
Florida is a more physically imposing and tough team on the inside, as they hang their hat on their defense and ability to shut down the paint. With the hulking Patric Young and leading rebounder Dorian Finney-Smith manning the paint for the Gators, the Wear twins from UCLA will have their hands full.
The Bruins best method of attack is from the outside. They have the players to light it up from deep, such as Jordan Adams, Zach LaVine and Kyle Anderson. Each of them shoots at least 36 percent from deep, and Bryce Alford comes off the bench to knock down 39 percent of his attempts.
Because of this, there is a temptation to take UCLA in this game, but more conventional wisdom says to ride with the Gators.
Depending on jump shots to fall is a risky proposition, and the Gators defense has been so good that it's hard to bet against a well-coached team with veteran leadership.
Florida should win a close one.
Kentucky is On a Roll
The best game of the round from a hype standpoint is the Battle of the Bluegrass State.
Whenever Kentucky and Louisville play, it's a big deal; when the meeting takes place in the NCAA tournament, it's an even bigger deal.
Louisville is trying to defend its national championship, and behind the recent play of Montrezl Harrell, Rick Pitino's team is looking more and more like a champion.
That said, there aren't many teams playing better than Kentucky right now.
Some critics of the Wichita State Shockers might be throwing shade at the team losing its first opportunity to take on a ranked team. The way Kentucky played in the third-round matchup made it clear, however, that the Wildcats are not just any ranked team.
The Wildcats shot 54 percent from the field, 44 percent from beyond the arc, 72 percent from the free-throw line and committed only 11 turnovers. Each of those numbers was better than the team's seasonal average.
Coach Calipari was sure to recognize every member of his team who was instrumental in the big win over Wichita State:
I’m really proud of the fight in this team and its ability to withstand adversity. The biggest play of the game: Dakari's offensive rebound.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 24, 2014
James Young made a big 3, Andrew made some clutch free throws, Julius grabbed a ton of rebounds and Aaron made some shots …— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 24, 2014
Both teams have talented rosters, but from top to bottom, no school has the horses that Kentucky brings, as their combination of size and athleticism is unmatched.
Unfortunately, head coach John Calipari couldn't get his team to play up to its potential most of the season, but that appears to be changing. The two teams did meet earlier in the season, though, and Kentucky won that game 73-66 in December.
Since then, both teams have improved, but the Wildcats have made bigger strides. Call it an upset—or just call it a potential classic—but the Kentucky will send their in-state rivals home and send itself to the Elite Eight.
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