The 2014 NCAA tournament has seen three of the most exciting rounds March Madness has ever seen, but the bracket is just heating up as the Sweet 16 continues on Friday.
Add in the Elite Eight competition that will take place on Saturday and Sunday, and the college basketball action during this year’s tournament should go down as some of the best in recent memory.
Here is all the vital bracket information basketball fans need, as well as the latest picks and odds heading into Friday’s action.
All Your Bracket Essentials
|Friday's Sweet 16 Schedule, Picks and Odds|
|Date||Regional Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Predicted Winner||Odds|
|Fri, March 28||(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||7:15 p.m.||CBS||Tennessee||Michigan -2.5|
|Fri, March 28||(7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State||7:27 p.m.||TBS||UConn||UConn -1.5|
|Fri, March 28||(8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville||9:45 p.m.||CBS||Louisville||Louisville -4.5|
|Fri, March 28||(4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia||9:57 p.m.||TBS||Michigan State||Michigan State -2|
|Source: NCAA.com and VegasInsider.com|
Friday’s Smartest Wager: No. 11 Tennessee over No. 2 Michigan
The first game on Friday’s Sweet 16 schedule is also the most exciting. When the No. 2 seed Michigan Wolverines (27-8, 15-3 Big Ten) square off against the No. 11 seed Tennessee Volunteers (24-12, 11-7 SEC), all eyes will be on this marquee matchup.
As the No. 2 seed, Michigan comes into the game as the clear betting favorite. With most gamblers looking at this matchup as one the Wolverines clearly should win, smart bettors are putting big wagers on the underdog Tennessee.
With one of the best defensive units in the nation and the size to shut down Michigan’s high-powered offense, the Volunteers will attack their opponents with a stingy defensive game plan.
Tennessee will not be stunned by anything Michigan throws its way, and Volunteers head coach Cuonzo Martin spoke about the adversity the program overcame to reach the Sweet 16, per Nicole Auerbach of USA Today:
Luckily for our guys, they stayed the course, didn't get caught up in the negativity and continued to get better not only as basketball players, but as men. That's probably the biggest thing I'm proud of — and their love for each other has really grown as a unit. … They took a lot of lumps, bumps along the way.
While Michigan deserves credit for putting together an excellent season, the school must utterly dominate from the field to win this game. The Wolverines averaged 75 points per game this season and were 21st in the nation with a .481 field-goal percentage.
Michigan’s biggest weakness was rebounding (303rd in the nation) this season, and Tennessee ranked 20th on the glass with 38.8 per game.
With the Volunteers possessing the size and strength to get the second-chance points, the underdog could pull off the outright victory on Friday.
Even if Tennessee doesn’t win the game, the team will cover the spread.
Predicted Final Score: Tennessee 76, Michigan 70
*Stats via ESPN.com.