NCAA Tournament 2014: Favorites in the Most Trouble in the Sweet 16

Trey WarrenContributor IIIMarch 27, 2014

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 22:  Adreian Payne #5 Denzel Valentine #45 Travis Trice #20 Gary Harris #14 and Branden Dawson #22 of the Michigan State Spartans look on against the Harvard Crimson in the second half during the Third Round of the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 22, 2014 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Sixteen teams are all that remain as the NCAA Tournament heats back up today.

Fans have already seen some big upsets this year, like No. 3-seeded Duke going down to No. 14-seeded Mercer. And after two rounds of the tournament, there are as many double-digit seeded teams left as there are No. 1 seeds (3).

Now that we have reached the Sweet 16, who is in the most trouble? There are three games that matchup some of the best offensive and defensive teams in the country, as well as one of the best rivalries in the country.


No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Michigan State

The Virginia Cavaliers had a sluggish start to the tournament and were deadlocked with No. 16 Coastal Carolina with less than nine minutes remaining in the game.

Now they will face their toughest test yet. The Michigan State Spartans feature one of the most efficient offenses in the country, ranking No. 6 in assists per game (17.1) and No. 31 in field goal percentage (.474).

Virginia’s defense has led them to this point and they have the length to battle MSU in the paint. However, scoring has been an issue for most of the season. The Cavaliers rank No. 294 in PPG (65.8) and No. 282 in free-throw percentage (.664).

If Michigan State can be efficient from three-point range and the free-throw line, the Spartans should have no problem advancing to the Elite 8.


No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA

This matchup combines one of the best defenses in the country and one of the best offenses.

The top-ranked Florida Gators haven’t lost since December 2 and have held teams under 60 points 17 times since then. However, they struggle at the free-throw line (.669) and are No. 181 in PPG (71.0).

The Bruins are a monster on the offensive side of the ball. They score 81.8 PPG (No. 12), average 17.2 assists (No. 5) and shoot .490 percent from the field (No. 10).

UCLA also averages 9.38 steals per game, the fourth-best in the country. Extra scoring opportunities will be key for the Bruins to knock off the Gators.


No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky

This game features the last two champions of the NCAA Tournament.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is undefeated in the Sweet 16 (11-0) and his team is looking to repeat as national champions. The Cardinals rank No. 8 in PPG (82.1) and No. 19 in APG (15.7).

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 22:  Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals looks on in the first half while taking on the Saint Louis Billikens during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Amway Center on March 22, 2014 in Orlan
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off of an upset victory over undefeated Wichita State. They are very good at rebounding on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. However, converting at the free-throw line and from three-point range have been issues for the team all season.

The rivalry is what puts Louisville on upset alert. Kentucky will need to be as good offensively as they were against the Shockers if they hope to advance.

All stats courtesy of

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