NCAA Tournament

Elite 8 2014: Updated Bracket and Sweet 16 Day 2 Predictions

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo and Travis Trice #20 of the Michigan State Spartans talk in the second half against the Harvard Crimson 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
Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2014

One-half of the field for the Elite Eight has been set after a stunning set of games to kick off Sweet 16 play.

The bracket is shaping up to be another classic, but heavyweights such as Kentucky and Louisville have yet to hit the hardwood for their Sweet 16 bouts.

 

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Plenty of worthy challengers await in the Elite Eight, but the folks in charge of making the schedule clearly saved some of the best Sweet 16 action for last.

With that in mind, the following is a look at the rest of the schedule and a breakdown of two of the biggest matchups.

 

Sweet 16 Day 2 Schedule

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Day 2 Schedule
MatchupDateTime (ET)TVPrediction
No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 2 MichiganFriday, March 277:15 p.m.CBSMichigan
No. 7 Connecticut vs. No. 3 Iowa StateFriday, March 277:27 p.m.TBSIowa State
No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 4 LouisvilleFriday, March 279:45 p.m.CBSLouisville
No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 1 VirginiaFriday, March 279:57 p.m.TBSMichigan State
NCAA

 

Sweet 16 Day 2 Predictions

No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Michigan

MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 20:  Nik Stauskas #11 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates a three point shot in the second half during the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center on March 20, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisco
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One of the quietest surprises of the bracket—with Dayton getting all the love as a Cinderella—the Volunteers have a legit shot to once again shock the world.

Dave Hogg of Fox Sports best summarizes why the Volunteers are a threat to continue to bust brackets:

But, on their night, the Volunteers can beat anyone in the country, as they showed in December by blowing out Virginia by 35 points. They also present a tough size matchup for the Wolverines, with four of their five starters coming in at 6'6" or taller.

Tennessee certainly has the look of a team that can take down Michigan, but one has to take into consideration under-the-radar factors outside of a nice run by either team.

For example, it's simply unwise to bet against John Beilein. His team full of sharpshooters such as Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert have yet to be slowed, and Beilein's defense continues to function at a high level.

The last point in particular is something the legendary coach stressed before the tournament, as captured by the Detroit Free Press:

That, above all else, will down Tennessee, as Jarnell Stokes won't be able to carry the Volunteers to a victory this time.

Prediction: Michigan 68, Tennessee 65

 

No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Virginia

Young Kwak/Associated Press

Kentucky-Louisville will get all the highlights, but the battle between Michigan State and Virginia is littered with intriguing storylines and evenly matched teams that has the potential to steal the show.

Interestingly enough, some Virginia players, despite being the No. 1 seed, consider themselves the underdog, as illustrated by Nicole Auerbach of USA Today:

One can see why Tom Izzo's team is considered the favorite. The Spartans are on a tear since getting Branden Dawson back from an injury and are the eighth-most efficient offense in the nation, according to KenPom.

The Cavaliers have size down low, but have not faced anything like the Spartans. The plodding offense had it easy against the likes of Coastal Carolina and Memphis, but Izzo's defense will have no issue shutting down an offense that averages 65.8 points per game.

Prediction: Michigan State 65, Virginia 54

 

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