The Sweet 16 is arguably the most important round of the NCAA tournament, as it cuts the field down to eight contenders who all have a realistic shot at making the Final Four.
After Day 1 revealed half of the intriguing Elite Eight matchups (Dayton vs. Florida and Arizona vs. Wisconsin), Day 2 promises to cap off the round with a bang and provide fans with plenty of action in the process.
Let’s take a look at the remaining Sweet 16 schedule, plus highlight where you can watch every game, check out my predictions for the outcome of each and more.
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream||Spread||Prediction|
|Fri, March 28||(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||7:15 p.m.||CBS||NCAA.com||Michigan -2.5||Michigan|
|Fri, March 28||(7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State||7:27 p.m.||TBS||NCAA.com||Iowa State -2||Iowa State|
|Fri, March 28||(8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville||9:45 p.m.||CBS||NCAA.com||Louisville -4.5||Kentucky|
|Fri, March 28||(4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia||9:57 p.m.||TBS||NCAA.com||Michigan State -2||Michigan State|
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Best Day 2 Matchup: Michigan State vs. Virginia
While many fans are gearing up to catch the Kentucky vs. Louisville rivalry clash on Friday night, they will be missing a treat that starts just a few minutes before in the form of Michigan State vs. Virginia.
The No. 4-seeded Spartans are getting ready to face their first real challenge during the Big Dance in the form of the No. 1 seed Cavaliers’ top-ranked defense.
KenPom has the Wahoos ranked No. 5 in the entire nation in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency, by far the highest of any of the three teams Michigan State has faced in the tournament.
However, the Spartans have what it takes to navigate past this group of tenacious defenders and it is a large reason why the oddsmakers have installed MSU as a slight, two-point favorite in the contest (as per ScoresAndOdds.com).
Sparty boasts the No. 8-ranked offense in the country, according to KenPom, and is finally healthy after suffering a rash of injuries during the 2013-14 campaign. Senior Adreian Payne is leading the way and completely capable of dominating on the brightest of stages.
He proved that in the squad’s opening matchup against the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens, scoring a whopping 41 points on 10-of-15 field-goal shooting and 4-of-5 from three-point range to pace his side to a 93-78 blowout victory.
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports pointed out Payne’s individual battle with Akil Mitchell is one you cannot afford to miss:
Underrated individual match up of the Sweet 16? Michigan State's Adreian Payne vs. Virginia's Akil Mitchell. Clash of the titans.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 25, 2014
If Mitchell and his ‘Hoos fail to slow down Michigan State’s offense, it is going to be a long trip back to Charlottesville. Virginia simply doesn’t have the kind of firepower to trade blows with a juggernaut like the Spartans.
The team has won 30 games based on a defense that allows just 55.5 points per game, which is the best mark in the NCAA, but cannot win a shootout due to an offense that averages just 65.8 points per game and ranks No. 294 in college basketball.
Tom Izzo, Michigan State’s revered coach, acknowledged UVA is by-and-large a No. 1 seed and a tough matchup due to its defensive prowess, according to Gillian Van Stratt of MLive.com:
Why are they a No. 1 seed? Because of the way they defend and rebound the ball. This is one of the best defensive teams in the whole country, if not the best. And they are big.
They're a very big, physical, strong team; people say they look like a Big Ten team. This is a bump and grind team.
It’s going to be a great battle in Madison Square Garden on Friday evening, so make sure you at least flip over to this game if you are watching UK vs. UL. You won’t be disappointed.