March Madness 2014: Bracket Predictions, Odds Tips for Sweet 16 Day 2 Schedule

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March Madness 2014: Bracket Predictions, Odds Tips for Sweet 16 Day 2 Schedule
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If you enjoyed Thursday's action, don't worry. That was just the appetizer. 

The 2014 NCAA tournament field has been narrowed to a dozen teams, but only eight teams will be left standing after Friday.

With four more win-or-go-home showdowns on the slate for Friday night in New York and Indianapolis, there's plenty of excitement ahead.

Below, we'll get you set for the conclusion of Sweet 16 action with some odds advice and predictions for how it will all play out. 

 

All Your Bracket Essentials

2014 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Day 2 Schedule
Date Matchup Spread Time (ET) TV
Fri, March 28 (11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan Michigan (-2) 7:15 p.m. CBS
Fri, March 28 (7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State Iowa State (-1.5) 7:27 p.m. TBS
Fri, March 28 (8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville Louisville (-4) 9:45 p.m. CBS
Fri, March 28 (4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia Michigan State (-2) 9:57 p.m. TBS

Source: Covers.com

Sweet 16 Predictions
Winner Loser
(2) Michigan (11) Tennessee
(3) Iowa State (7) Connecticut
(4) Louisville (8) Kentucky
(4) Michigan State (1) Virginia

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Midwest Region: No. 2 Michigan (-2) Over No. 11 Tennessee 

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Don't let the seedings fool you. This matchup promises to be much closer than anyone would have projected before the tournament began. 

Having reeled off three straight wins in the Big Dance, the 11th-seeded Volunteers will be dangerous underdogs on Friday. Second-seeded Michigan is a two-point favorite thanks to its impressive overall body of work and shooting prowess, but Tennessee's strength on the boards and physicality on the interior should make things interesting. 

ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf pinpoints Tennessee's size and strength advantage as the No. 1 reason he likes the Volunteers to spring the upset in Indianapolis:

The Wolverines have the most talented trio of wings -- Caris LeVert, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas -- in the field. They can hit 3-pointers and run the floor. But Tennessee is built for this matchup. The Vols have big guards in Josh Richardson, Antonio Barton and Jordan McRae. And Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes will be a handful for the undersized Wolverines inside. Tennessee, meet the Elite Eight.

While Medcalf crafts a convincing argument, Michigan has been the more explosive and consistent of the two teams over the course of the season. It is favored for a reason. 

Like each of Friday's matchups, this game could truly go either way and will likely come down to the wire, but it's hard to pick against a Michigan team that reached the national championship a year ago and ranks 21st in the nation in team field-goal percentage. 

 

East Region: No. 3 Iowa State (-1.5) Over No. 7 Connecticut

In perhaps the biggest tossup of Friday night, third-seeded Iowa State will look to get past seventh-seeded Connecticut, which finds itself in a similar scenario but with a different man leading the charge in second-year head coach Kevin Ollie. 

Fred Hoiberg's Cyclones are without Georges Niang, who suffered a broken foot in the second round, but Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane are more than capable of carrying the load, as they showed in their third-round win over No. 6 North Carolina.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

At 6'4", Kane is an explosive guard who can shoot the three or drive to the rim and finish strong through and over defenders. 

Naz Long will also be an X-factor for Iowa State. The sophomore reserve hit four three-pointers against the Tar Heels and can provide instant offense off the bench. 

Look for Iowa State, the sixth-highest-scoring team in the country, to light up the scoreboard yet again in a victory over the Huskies.

 

Midwest Region: No. 4 Louisville (-4) Over No. 8 Kentucky

Friday's most anticipated Sweet 16 matchup by far will be No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky at the top of the Midwest Region bracket. 

Former Louisville head coach Denny Crum believes the matchup is fitting for the Cardinals, who have won eight straight NCAA tournament games since 2013, per the Associated Press, via the Boston Herald:

It's a rival game and it means moving on to the next level in the NCAA tournament, getting to the round of eight and having a chance to make it to a Final Four again. That's the biggest motivation. Sure, it's a rival game, but that's just part of it. Both want to win, and that's the way it should be.

The two in-state rivals have met once already this season, with the young and talented Wildcats earning a seven-point win over the Cardinals in Lexington back on Dec. 28. This time around, though, Rick Pitino's defending national champions are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak.

Like many analysts, Medcalf likes Louisville to prevail. However, he's willing to go a step further, predicting that the Cardinals will cruise into the Elite Eight comfortably, winning by double digits:

I wasn’t impressed by Louisville’s opening weekend (wins over Manhattan and Saint Louis), but I believe that the Cardinals recognize they had more to give in both games. And they’ll prove it with a double-digit win over Kentucky. More experience. More balance. Rick Pitino’s 11-0 record in the Sweet 16. (Calipari is 5-1 against Louisville since arriving at Kentucky, though.) This game won’t live up to the hype. Russ Smith & Co. will pressure the young Wildcats for 40 minutes and avenge an earlier loss against Kentucky.

It's highly unlikely that this game will end in a blowout, but there's no doubt Louisville has earned its favorite status and the respect of college basketball fans everywhere. 

 

East Region: No. 4 Michigan State (-2) Over No. 1 Virginia 

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Friday's final Sweet 16 showdown will pit one of the nation's most dynamic offenses in Michigan State against the country's top-ranked defensive unit in Virginia. 

Despite entering as the No. 1 seed in the East Region, Tony Bennett's Cavaliers will be slight underdogs when they take the court inside Madison Square Garden. 

But betting against either of these two teams will be awfully tough given their championship potential.

Tom Izzo might as well be Mr. Final Four, having reached six since 1999, and only two teams have scored more than 60 points against Virginia over the Cavs' last 13 games. 

Predict a winner at your own risk, but I, like many, will go with my gut on this one. Spartans to the Elite Eight.

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