The stage is set for the Elite Eight now that Day 2 of the Sweet 16 is in the books, and if the tense, down-to-the-wire action is any indication, the final eight teams are set to put on a show of epic proportions.
In the first two games, Michigan and Connecticut put together strong offensive performances to move past the opposition and secure spots in the next round. In the late games, Kentucky shocked the globe while Michigan State kept the pedal to the floor.
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Here is a look at how all the action played out on Friday, and a brief look at each Elite Eight matchup to boot.
Sweet 16 Day 2 Results
|(11) Tennessee vs. (2) Michigan||Michigan 73, Tennessee 71|
|(7) Connecticut vs. (3) Iowa State||Connecticut 81, Iowa State 76|
|(8) Kentucky vs. (4) Louisville||Kentucky 74, Louisville 69|
|(4) Michigan State vs. (1) Virginia||Michigan State 61, Virginia 59|
Elite Eight Schedule
|South||Dayton vs. Florida||6:09 p.m.||TBS|
|West||Wisconsin vs. Arizona||8:49 p.m.||TBS|
|Midwest||Michigan vs. Kentucky||5:05 p.m.||CBS|
|East||UConn vs. Michigan State||2:20 p.m.||CBS|
Michigan 73, Tennessee 71
It's hard to discredit the Michigan Wolverines at this point.
Often knocked as an offensive-minded team, the Wolverines got a massive performance from big man Jordan Morgan on Friday. The senior posted a team-high 15 points to go with seven rebounds, a steal and a block.
To be fair, Tennessee came out and played the best ball of its season by shooting 52.6 percent overall and notching seven steals, eight blocks and winning the battle on the glass, 28-26. Led by Jordan McRae and his 24 points, the Volunteers almost pulled off the upset in the closing moments.
But as ESPN points out, Michigan was simply unconscious throughout the game:
Michigan made 16 of 21 (76%) of shots that were not blocked by Tennessee in 1st half— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 29, 2014
The impressive first half, which bled through to the second, defied most known metrics, as illustrated by The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre:
Tennessee is the 15th rated D per Ken Pom. Michigan is shooting 61% from the field, 77% on 3-pointers (7-of-9). Insanity— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) March 28, 2014
Overall, Michigan shot 55.1 percent from the field and a great 11-of-20 mark from long range. The team advances with great shooting and stout defense in tow for a surefire classic against either Kentucky or Louisville.
Connecticut 81, Iowa State 76
Much like the Wolverines, the Connecticut Huskies had to convert many fans to believers with a win on Friday night.
Also like Michigan, UConn shot lights out in a game that was never really close.
Led by Shabazz Napier and his 19 points and five assists, who was flanked by DeAndre Daniels and his 27 points and 10 rebounds, the Huskies jumped out to a 10-point advantage at halftime and never looked back.
Daniels in particular made quite the name for himself, as illustrated by SportsCenter:
DeAndre Daniels with a CAREER night for UConn, puts up 27 Pts, 10 Reb. Second Husky ever to get 25 and 10 in tourney. The other? Ray Allen.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 29, 2014
The Cyclones simply did not have enough efficiency or composure to survive the early onslaught. Fox Sports' Aaron Torres put it best:
My hard hitting analysis of Iowa State-UConn right now: The Cyclones are rattled, man— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) March 29, 2014
The Cyclones shot just 46.4 percent from the field and had a worse percentage from the charity stripe than the Huskies did from long distance.
UConn shot 52 percent overall from the field and hit on a 9-of-19 mark from downtown. Outside of 34 points from Dustin Hogue, the Huskies defense showed why it deserves just as much credit for the team's deep run that now has them set for a date with either Virginia or Michigan State in the Elite Eight.
Kentucky 74, Louisville 69
Rick Pitino is now 11-1 all-time in the Sweet 16.
More importantly, Kentucky—which strangely qualifies as a Cinderella—is on to the Elite Eight after yet again surviving a late three and knocking down clutch free throws.
This time the Wildcats shot a worse percentage than the opposition but were absolutely dominant beneath the rim thanks to a 37-29 advantage on the glass.
It didn't look good for the Wildcats right away, as captured by ESPN's Jeff Goodman:
Kentucky can't score -- or defend right now. Louisville getting whatever it wants against UK thus far. Cards lead 18-5. Still EARLY.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 29, 2014
But Louisville's rapid pace eventually cooled, and Kentucky's size inside ended up being the difference. As expected, Julius Randle was electric and scored 15 points to go with a game-high 12 boards. Three other Wildcats joined him in double figures.
Kentucky can't afford to rest just yet, as a matchup against Michigan is now set. The Wolverines have been lights out from the field, so the Wildcats will once again have to overcome a great shooting team with brute force in the trenches.
Michigan State 61, Virginia 59
As expected, the heavyweight bout between Michigan State and Virginia was one for the ages as two very experienced teams took care of the ball and made each trip down the court count.
Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated captured the essence of the battle perfectly:
Every possession at a premium in this Va-Mich St game. What a pleasure.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 29, 2014
As many who have paid careful attention to the Spartans surely know, Branden Dawson was yet again the difference:
Branden Dawson playing like a grown man tonight. How did the Spartans last five weeks without him?— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 29, 2014
With Dawson back from injury, the Spartans continue to be the team to beat in the bracket. He totaled a game-high 24 points and grabbed 10 boards to boot. Adreian Payne was right behind with 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Michigan State actually lost the battle on the glass and turned the ball over 10 times, but Tom Izzo's suffocating defense, spearheaded by Dawson, held the Cavaliers to 35.1 percent shooting from the field overall. Malcolm Broqdon and Joe Harris scored 17 points apiece, but no other Virginia player sniffed double digits.
The Spartans move on to an encounter with UConn, a bout that figures to be very similar to Friday's instant classic.