The hardest part about picking out the Sweet 16's most enticing games is narrowing down the list. This round is loaded with compelling matchups.
Still, there are three that stand above the rest. I'll highlight those below.
After a four-day break, the Sweet 16 tips off on Thursday and quickly wraps up on Friday. So, it's best to limber up your remote thumb and get familiar with the viewing schedule. Have a look:
|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|
Source: March Madness Live
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Most Enticing Games
Midwest Region: No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 4 Louisville
Whether Kentucky and Louisville are playing an exhibition or in the regular season, it is an enticing game. Pit these two schools against each other in the Sweet 16 and it's a cause for delirium.
This in-state rivalry has been building for a century, and it is about to have a definitive moment.
These two schools have combined to provide us our last two national champions. ESPN passes along the rarity of this kind of meeting:
Kentucky-Louisville will be 4th time in NCAA Tourn history that the previous 2 nat'l champs will play each other in a NCAA Tourn game.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 25, 2014
Louisville is the defending champion, but it was Kentucky that started this season as the No. 1 team.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino will lead the Cardinals against a Kentucky program he was previously in charge of. John Calipari is now the head man at Kentucky, and this provides the basis for an outstanding coaching matchup.
It is Pitino who will be looking to balance the scales. When meeting as the coaches of their current schools, Calipari holds a 5-1 edge over Pitino.
On the court, both teams are talented. Louisville is experienced, but Kentucky is filled with elite young talent.
Every Sweet 16 game is an intense setting, but the intensity meter is going to break for this matchup.
East Region: No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Virginia
The Michigan State Spartans have been so impressive in their late-season run that they enter this game as a favorite in this game at places like VegasInsider.com despite being the No. 4 seed taking on the No. 1 seed.
This is going to be a physical game. Tom Izzo and his Spartans always bring a physical mentality to the floor. Meanwhile, Virginia is a deliberate team that builds success on the nation's best scoring defense.
This game will not be all about pounding out half-court possessions, however. The Spartans like to get out in transition for the buckets. They will definitely make that an emphasis in this game, as Virginia's half-court defense is insanely fierce.
Besides the matchup between these two teams, there is another storyline that makes this game compelling.
There have been rumors circulating that Izzo will be courted by the Detroit Pistons to take over coaching duties. CollegeBasketballTalk.com passed along this Izzo response:
Tom Izzo on Michigan State: ‘This is a pretty good place for me right now’ http://t.co/spatkzYSM4— CollegeBasketbllTalk (@CBTonNBC) March 25, 2014
No matter what assurances Izzo offers, it is impossible not to consider that Izzo may be in the midst of his final coaching run with the Spartans.
South Region: No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 1 Florida
Florida proved itself to be the nation's best team during the course of the regular season. UCLA was far removed from that honor.
The Bruins, however, are streaking.
UCLA lost three of five to close out the regular season. The Bruins then took it to another level once tournament play began. UCLA won the Pac-12 tournament title with a 75-71 win over Arizona in the championship game, and that was the only game it's played in its postseason tournament run that has been decided by less than 17.
Meanwhile, the Gators haven't offered up anything to suggest they still aren't the best team in the nation. Last round, they easily handled a good Pittsburgh team, 61-45.
What is most compelling about this matchup is the battle of strengths. ESPN helps highlight:
Transition will be key in UCLA-Florida matchup. UCLA led Pac-12 in transition scoring (19.7), while Florida allowed the fewest in SEC (9.0)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 27, 2014
That transition defense isn't enough for UCLA alum Russell Westbrook to shy away from picking his Bruins. Thunder Obsessed shared the NBA star's thoughts:
Westbrook said he fully thinks UCLA will beat Florida.— Thunder Obsessed (@ThunderObsessed) March 27, 2014
Westbrook may be a little biased, and in the end, neither team is guaranteed victory in this tight matchup.