After two close games Thursday night, the top-seeded Florida Gators put away No. 4 UCLA in the South Region, and the No. 11-seeded Dayton Flyers kept their Cinderella hopes alive by downing No. 10 Stanford.
The Flyers will face the ultimate giant in Florida on Saturday. The Gators have won 29 in a row. Their defense has been stifling during the season and through three games in the tournament.
Knocking off the Gators will be a tall order.
In the West Region, the top two seeds advanced to the Elite Eight. No. 1 Arizona put away a pesky No. 4-seeded San Diego State team, and No. 2 Wisconsin thrashed No. 6 Baylor to set up an intriguing regional final Saturday.
With that, half of the Elite Eight is set. The other half will be determined Friday night when the East and Midwest regions move another step toward establishing its Final Four representative.
Here's the matchups as well as viewing information for all four games.
March Madness TV can be found on CBSSports.com.
Click here to see the most updated bracket.
|March 28||Michigan (2) vs. Tennessee (11)||7:15 p.m.||CBS||March Madness TV|
|March 28||Iowa State (3) vs. Connecticut (7)||7:27 p.m.||TBS||March Madness TV|
|March 28||Louisville (4) vs. Kentucky (8)||9:45 p.m.||CBS||March Madness TV|
|March 28||Virginia (1) vs. Michigan State (4)||9:57 p.m.||TBS||March Madness TV|
East Region At Madison Square Garden in New York
Michigan State Spartans vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia is the top seed, but it's not the favorite heading into the clash with the Spartans, per Covers.com. It's hard to deny Tom Izzo's bunch this late in the tournament.
Izzo seemingly has the Spartans playing their best basketball at the right time.
While Izzo's amazing coaching certainly deserves a ton of credit, he is quick to show his appreciation for his training staff.
Per Nicole Auerbach of USA Today, Izzo talks about trainer Quinton Sawyer:
Tom Izzo on Q, his trainer: “I love the guy right now. I hug and kiss him every day. He got us through it.” http://t.co/JDGHp9OoP6— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) March 28, 2014
The Spartans were taken apart by injuries early in the season. How bad were things on the injury front? Sawyer told Auerbach:
In my 10 years of working as an athletic trainer, it's definitely the most injuries I've seen for one team in one season. We were very fortunate in the respect that we didn't lose anyone for the year. That was a good thing. We had things that were manageable.
Thanks to Sawyer, the team has mended and is as healthy as its been all season. Behind Adreian Payne and Gary Harris, Michigan State will be tough to beat.
Iowa State Cyclones vs. Connecticut Huskies
As a No. 7 seed, Connecticut has advanced further than most people would have expected. On Friday, it faces perhaps the best offensive team in the nation. Iowa State averages 83.2 points per game and hasn't been held under 85 in the tournament.
Under head coach Fred Hoiberg, the Cyclones are a multi-pronged attack with multiple players capable of carrying the offensive load.
Even without injured center Georges Niang, the Cyclones didn't miss a beat against North Carolina in the third round. Guard DeAndre Kane stepped up with a 24-point performance.
Melvin Ejim is another capable offensive threat. He added 19 against Carolina. Can UConn hold down this high-powered bunch?
Kevin Ollie's team needs a big effort from DeAndre Daniels if his team is to have a chance. Shabazz Napier is the leader, but he needs a second fiddle to keep up with Iowa State. UConn must have at least a dynamic duo and solid defense to advance to the Elite Eight.
Midwest Region at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Behind Jarnell Stokes, the Volunteers' beefy and talented post presence has helped to manhandle tournament opponents thus far.
The Wolverines are clearly the more well-rounded squad here. Jordan Morgan has the bulk to contend with Stokes, but the Wolverines really have an advantage on the perimeter.
Led by Nik Stauskas, Michigan has several players who can explode offensively.
Stauskas is a dead-eye shooter and underrated player off the dribble. He is averaging 17.4 points per game and he made 45 percent of his threes.
The Vols will likely have an issue with the Wolverines depth.
Louisville Cardinals vs. Kentucky Wildcats
This is as big as it gets in the realm of college basketball rivalries. Anytime the Cardinals and Wildcats get together, it's a big deal.
The fact that the two are meeting in the NCAA tournament makes it all the more must see.
Louisville is the defending champion and led by head coach Rick Pitino; the team is playing its best basketball. The Cardinals have won seven in a row.
Since John Calipari took over at Kentucky in 2009-10, he’s faced Rick Pitino’s Louisville team six times, winning five.— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 24, 2014
Pitino accomplished the remarkable feat of having won a national championship at both schools, but Calipari has had his number in the current format.
Behind a surging group of freshman stars, Kentucky looks primed to pose the Cardinals with their biggest threat in the tournament thus far. After knocking off previously unbeaten Wichita State in the third round, no one should be doubting the Wildcats.
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