25 March 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament: Sweet Sixteen Predictions

(AP)
It seems like just yesterday was Selection Sunday, but now we have whittled down the field of 68 to a field of 16 or the Sweet Sixteen as the kids these days call it. While some of the usual suspects are here, but we have also got some surprises (Dayton, anyone? Stanford, anyone? Maybe Tennessee, anyone?). Who will survive and advance to the Elite Eight? Here are my predictions for the Regional Semifinals.

Bracket

Thursday, March 27th
#10 Stanford vs. #11 Dayton - South - CBS, 7:15
I think this is a matchup that nobody saw coming. And the one team that I am shocked got this far is Stanford, while I am surprised but not that shocked Dayton got to Memphis. I like Dayton to move on to the Elite Eight, I love what they are doing offensively with how well they shoot the threeball and I don't think the Cardinal are strong enough defensively to slow them down.
Pick: Dayton

#2 Wisconsin vs. #7 Baylor - West - TBS, 7:47
These two got to Southern California in different ways. Wisconsin struggled to get by a game Oregon club in Milwaukee while Baylor drilled Creighton in San Antonio. I like the Badgers to win here and I think their shooting and their offense gameplan will get them by the athleticism of the Bears and get to their first Elite Eight in a decade.
Pick: Wisconsin

#1 Florida vs. #4 UCLA - South - CBS, 9:45
The Bruins have been looking great the last couple of weeks, especially on offense as they have scored 75 points or more in their five-game winning streak. I think it is safe to say that this streak will come to an end with one of the toughest defenses in the country playing them in the Gators. This is not a great matchup for UCLA and I think the Gators will slide on by relatively comfortable to the South Regional Final.
Pick: Florida

#1 Arizona vs. #4 San Diego State - West - TBS, 10:17
Don't be surprised if this game ends up in the 40's, we only have a pair of top five defenses going at it in the nightcap in Anaheim. The Aztecs will have a shot considering how low the scoring is going to be but I think that Arizona's much better offense (27th in adjusted offense according to Ken Pomeroy, while San Diego State is 101st), will be just enough in this grinder.
Pick: Arizona

Friday, March 28th
#2 Michigan vs. #11 Tennessee - Midwest - CBS, 7:15
While Tennessee was seeded as an 11 seed and had to play in the First Four in Dayton, they have looked great, winning their 2nd and 3rd Round games by a combined 39 points by dominated both UMass and Mercer in the paint and wearing them down with their defense. This is a good club, but I do not think that Michigan is a good matchup for them with how well they shoot from the perimeter, and their defense is good enough to play that way as well.
Pick: Michigan

#3 Iowa State vs. #7 UConn - East - TBS, 7:27
Even without George Niang, the Cyclones won a classic Sunday afternoon against North Carolina, albeit one with a controversial finish. They have got plenty of offensive firepower and an excellent coach (with some excellent dance moves) in Fred Hoiberg, but I am going with the Huskies here in New York. Shabazz Napier is playing out of his mind right now and will help lead UConn to their first Elite Eight since 2011.
Pick: UConn

#4 Louisville vs. #8 Kentucky - Midwest - CBS, 9:45
Now this should be fun, two intrastate clubs that have nothing but hate for each other. Louisville won in a grinder that was not easy while Kentucky won in an amazing ballgame with Wichita State. Kentucky is dangerous because of how talented they are and how they seem to be finally playing to their potential, but I have to go with the Cardinals. If anybody is poised to win games by going through a wringer, I think Louisvile is it.
Pick: Louisville

#1 Virginia vs. #4 Michigan State - East - TBS, 9:57
I don't think you will be seeing much points in this one at MSG as Virginia is brilliant defensively and Michigan State is well-rounded and can play that way as well. That said, I do have to go with the Spartans, who I think have looked more impressive thus far. I think they are better at getting buckets when they need them than are the Cavaliers, and that will be the difference.
Pick: Michigan State

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