I won't lie to you—I expect that you'll be watching every single bit of Sweet 16 coverage that you can over the next two days. I expect you'll have one game on your television and another streaming on your computer, tablet or phone. I expect that you'll enjoy every moment.
I know, I know, I'm tough, but it's only because I care. I care that you watch all eight of these extremely intriguing matchups. I care that you savor the NCAA tournament while it lasts. And I care that you appreciate all of the great storylines that will take shape over the next two days.
To make sure you don't miss a second of basketball action, I've compiled the full Sweet 16 schedule below, along with running through some of the biggest storylines. If you miss anything, well, you have nobody to blame but yourself.
All Your Bracket Essentials
Schedule and Coverage
|Sweet 16 Schedule|
|When (All Times ET)||Matchup||Watch||Stream|
|Thursday at 7:15 p.m.||Dayton vs. Stanford||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Thursday at 7:47 p.m.||Baylor vs. Wisconsin||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Thursday at 9:45 p.m.||UCLA vs. Florida||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Thursday at 10:17 p.m.||San Diego State vs. Arizona||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Friday at 7:15 p.m.||Tennessee vs. Michigan||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Friday at 7:27 p.m.||UConn vs. Iowa State||TBS||March Madness Live|
|Friday at 9:45 p.m.||Kentucky vs. Louisville||CBS||March Madness Live|
|Friday at 9:57 p.m.||Michigan State vs. Virginia||TBS||March Madness Live|
|March Madness Live - http://www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live|
Half of the storylines in the Sweet 16 come from the Louisville versus Kentucky matchup.
The teams are bitter in-state rivals. Rick Pitino formerly coached the Wildcats. Kentucky was considered the top team in the country before the season began, while Louisville is the defending champion. Kentucky won the earlier matchup between the teams this season, and both teams are peaking at the right time.
Kentucky has the superior talent, but they are also young and still learning to play together. Louisville, meanwhile, is led by veterans like Russ Smith and Luke Hancock and plays a suffocating brand of pressure defense.
Can the young talents on Kentucky break through the pressure?
Iowa State taking on UConn should be fun, both because these teams play contrasting styles—UConn likes to play slow, the Cyclones get out and run—and because each has a star capable of taking over the game. For the Huskies, it's Shabazz Napier. For the Cyclones, it's DeAndre Kane.
UConn is more reliant on Napier to produce, and he's certainly capable of leading the Huskies to the Elite Eight. Jay Bilas of ESPN thinks as much:
The premier matchup is Virginia taking on Michigan State. Virginia is the No. 1 seed in the East Region, but the Spartans will be favored by many. In fact, Virginia feels like the most underrated No. 1 seed in years.
But man, is Michigan State talented. More importantly, they are so balanced. Eamonn Brennan of ESPN breaks down what makes Sparty so dangerous:
The Spartans shoot nearly 40 percent from 3 as a team; they don't have a player in their regular rotation—including hilariously skilled, hyperathletic center Payne—who doesn't shoot at least 35 percent from 3. (The low number in that group, by the way? Gary Harris.) What makes Michigan State so difficult to guard is also what makes them difficult to scout: The Spartans can score in transition or in the half court, at the rim or on the perimeter. When they get going, they can bury you before you know it. (See: Crimson, Harvard.) This is going to be an amazing game.
Virginia is one of the better defensive teams in the country, but the versatile Spartans may be too tough.
Styles make fights, and there are a lot of contrasting styles in the Sweet 16 fights.
Michigan is dangerous from the perimeter and plays efficient offense, while Tennessee bullies teams on the interior. Stanford's length makes them difficult to deal with, while Dayton's depth and scrappy perimeter players have led them this far. Florida is an extremely good defensive team and is dangerous in transition, while UCLA is finesse offense epitomized.
But some teams are extremely similar. Take Arizona and San Diego State, two of the best defensive teams in the country that rely on big performances from stars on the offensive end (Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon for Arizona, Xavier Thames for San Diego State).
Oh, and how could we forget about the Cinderella stories? Stanford is a No. 10 seed, while both Dayton and Tennessee are No. 11 seeds. Heck, Tennessee had to win a play-in game, though they might be one of the strongest No. 11 seeds we've ever seen.
At least one of these teams will reach the Elite Eight. Once again, the slipper fits in the NCAA tournament.
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