The beat goes on as the 2014 NCAA tournament continues toward its conclusion.
Indeed, March Madness has lived up to its billing thus far. The wild round of 32 acted as a strong indicator as to how unpredictable and thrilling the Sweet 16 would turn out to be.
The full stage for the Elite Eight has yet to be set, but even without some of the nation's most prestigious basketball schools yet to hit the hardwood, the bracket has delivered some of the most memorable moments one can fathom.
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Here's a look at the Sweet 16 results thus far, with a focal point on the best action to date.
|Thurs., March 27||No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 11 Dayton||Dayton, 82-72|
|Thurs., March 27||No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Baylor||Wisconsin, 69-52|
|Thurs., March 27||No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 UCLA||Florida, 79-68|
|Thurs., March 27||No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 4 San Diego State||Arizona, 70-64|
No. 1 Arizona 70, No. 4 San Diego State 64
Sometimes, defense does win championships in the Madness.
2014 may prove to be such a year with the way the Arizona Wildcats continue to smother the opposition with a seemingly impregnable front that creates plenty of turnovers.
On Thursday, they held San Diego State to 19 points through the first 17 minutes of play in the second half. This was a major deal, as star Nick Johnson failed to score for the Wildcats until less than three minutes remained in regulation.
He turned it on late, with the aid of 10 points from the foul line. CBS Sports' Jerry Palm aptly summarized the performance:
Nick Johnson had nothing at the last TV timeout and ended up with 15? #steppinup— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) March 28, 2014
The Wildcats once again got a boost from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson off the bench, who was one of three Arizona players to reach 15 points. The overall team effort was enough to stifle the Aztecs' Xavier Thames, who posted a game-high 25 points.
It helps that the Arizona defense is on a roll and held the Aztecs to 38.9 percent from the field. The Wildcats will need that trend to continue, as they are now tasked with finding a solution to Wisconsin's red-hot offense in the Elite Eight.
No. 1 Florida 79, No. 4 UCLA 68
Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators continue to pass all tests this March despite carrying around the largest target of all thanks to being the No. 1 overall team in the land.
With a close call against UCLA in the books, the Gators have won 29 in a row. The contest was much closer than the final tally indicates, because once again Florida allowed the opposition to hang around until late in the game—before turning it on in the clutch.
Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis hit the nail on the head as the Gators pulled away to win on Thursday:
Florida isn't just a second half team, it's a fourth quarter team. Teams stay close til then. That's been the Gators' M.O.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 28, 2014
Not only did Florida have to stave off a Bruins attack that wound up shooting better than 42 percent from the field by the final buzzer, Donovan and Co. had to deal with whistle-happy refs, which the head coach hinted at during halftime, as captured by CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb:
In other words, it's impressive that the Gators were able to shoot 50 percent from the field and record 10 more assists and rebounds than the Bruins overall.
If that doesn't scream dominance, nothing will. Even better, the Gators sent a warning shot to the rest of the bracket, as sophomore Michael Frazier II knocked down five of eight shots from long range. This is a very important development, as illustrated by CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello:
Frazier making shots basically eliminates Florida's lone weakness. He makes them the most complete team in the country.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 28, 2014
Still, Florida has to proceed with caution thanks to an Elite Eight date with Dayton, which excels from deep range. Unlike UCLA and its putrid 16.7 percentage from behind the arc on Thursday, the Flyers won't have trouble scoring in bunches to keep pace.