The Sweet 16 is easily one of the most exciting rounds of any NCAA tournament and 2014 should be no different.
This is when the wheat separates from the chaff and the cream rises to the top, as the good teams prove why they have a chance to win a title and the pretenders fade away, leaving us with eight quality programs all capable of claiming a national championship.
There are plenty of chances to bet on these matchups, but you had better hurry—tip-off is soon. Don’t let a golden opportunity slip through your fingers due to procrastination.
Keep reading to find out the complete Sweet 16 schedule, plus the latest odds for every game, my picks for the winner of each and more.
|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 -3.5||Baylor|
|Thu, March 27||(4) UCLA vs. (1) Florida||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Florida -5||Florida|
|Thu, March 27||(4) San Diego State vs. (1) Arizona||10:17 p.m.||TBS||Arizona -7.5||Arizona|
|Fri, March 28||(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Michigan -2.5||Michigan|
|Fri, March 28||(7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State||7:27 p.m.||TBS||Iowa State -1.5||Iowa State|
|Fri, March 28||(8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Louisville -4||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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Best Sweet 16 Upset Bet: Kentucky (+4) over Louisville
The Kentucky Wildcats became the first team to eliminate a No. 1 overall seed in this tournament, edging out a thrilling victory over Wichita State in the third round.
Kentucky, which started the season ranked No. 1 in the country, has had its ups and its downs during a tumultuous 2013-14 campaign but seems to be rounding into form at the right time.
UK survived its first real test and now proved it has what it takes to make a Final Four run coming out of the loaded Midwest region. The team’s road isn’t going to get any easier, however, with Louisville on tap in the Sweet 16.
However, head coach John Calipari likened the hard-fought battle with the Shockers to an Elite Eight game, as per CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish: “You all understand this was an Elite Eight game, right? The winner of this should've gone to the Final Four."
That is exactly the kind of experience his Wildcats need to prepare for this upcoming matchup with the Cardinals. It will be the second time this season these two Kentucky-based blueblood programs will square off, with the Wildcats earning a sound 73-66 win in the initial meeting back on Dec. 28.
Former Louisville star Darrell Griffith analyzed the matchup and implications, as per The Associated Press (via the Boston Herald):
We're looking for revenge. We didn't play a good game at Kentucky, and they've got a real good team (that's) playing the way a lot expect them to play now.
We've got a great team. We're undersized, but that doesn't matter. You see a lot of teams on the sidelines now. You play to your strengths and which team's strengths prevail is the one that's going to win. Everybody's got to have their 'A' game from here on out.
The Harrison twins were a catalyst for that Kentucky victory, as the duo combined for 28 points in the contest and will be even more important to their team’s chances Friday.
Fortunately, Andrew and Aaron are coming off their top showing of the season. The duo lit up the Shockers for 38 combined points and proved all their doubters wrong:
Jeff Drummond of AllWildCats.com called it their biggest moment and a great answer to the criticism they have faced:
Harrison twins took a lot of criticism locally & nationally this season, responded with 39 points in biggest moment of season to date.— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) March 23, 2014
Kentucky also has the coaching matchup in its favor. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Calipari has beat Rick Pitino five of the six times the two have faced off since coach Cal arrived on campus in Lexington back in 2009-10:
Since John Calipari took over at Kentucky in '09-10 season, he's faced Rick Pitino's Louisville team 6 times and won 5 of those games— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 24, 2014
While Louisville has the championship experience and veteran scorer Russ Smith, UK has more overall skills and immense size.
If they don’t look like inexperienced freshmen and make a ton of mistakes, the more talented Wildcats should advance to the Elite Eight this weekend.
Which team will win outright?
Bettors should take the points, as it will guarantee a victory in the likely event that this game comes down to the final shot. More opportunistic gamblers could consider the moneyline (currently set at +165 for UK, as per ScoresAndOdds.com) to earn a better return on investment if Kentucky wins outright.
Either way, backing the Wildcats seems to be the smart play—especially after earning a signature win against the top-seeded Shockers.