The Sweet 16 matchups have been set and the No. 1 Florida Gators are one of three top seeds to survive the wild first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
The field has been trimmed down to 16 teams with 11-seeds Dayton and Tennessee, along with No.10 Stanford, taking on the Cinderella roles this year.
Named top overall No. 1 seed from the beginning, Florida has used its first two wins to remain at the forefront of what’s become a highly unpredictable race to the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.
Three of the No. 1 seeds advanced to the tournament’s second weekend, with only Wichita State falling late to NBA-prospect-laden Kentucky on Sunday. The Wildcats will face in-state rival No. 4 Louisville for the sixth time in the tournament, and are now 5-2 in their last seven games after an up-and-down regular season.
One of the last four in the tournament, Tennessee has been the most battle tested of any of the remaining schools after bumping off Iowa in the first round, upsetting UMass in the second, and taking advantage of No. 14 Mercer with a 20-point victory in the third.
Odds below from Sportsbook.com, but San Diego State vs. Arizona aren’t listed. However they should be live shortly.
No. 1 Florida -5.5 vs. No. 4 UCLA
The Gators now own the longest win streak in the country at 29 straight and rolled past Pitt easily in the second round. UCLA makes its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2008 in head coach Steve Alford’s first season.
Prediction: Florida 68, UCLA 60
No. 11 Dayton vs. No. 10 Stanford -2.5
Stanford continued its storied run by knocking off No. 2 Kansas, and in turn also opened up the South Region just a little bit more for the Gators. Dayton has built up its confidence by eliminating No. 6 Ohio State and No. 3 Syracuse, but can’t look past a Cardinal squad that’s played solid defense and has plenty of depth in the front court.
Prediction: Stanford 70, Dayton 68
No. 4 Michigan State -1.5 vs. No. 1 Virginia
Virginia is 18-1 in its last 19 games and won their first two tournament games in seven years by an average of 14.5 points. But the Spartans have been dominant on both ends of the court and look poised to go back to the Final Four.
Prediction: Michigan State 67, Virginia 65
No. 7 Connecticut vs. No. 3 Iowa State -1
The Huskies were winless in the tournament since Jim Calhoun left, but in Kevin Ollie’s second season their back in the Sweet 16. These two teams last met in 2012 in the first round, with Iowa State coming out on top by eight. UConn’s Shabaaz Napier is averaging 24.5 points in two games so far, but DeAndre Kane and the Cyclones ran the sixth best offense in the country this year.
Prediction: Connecticut 75, Iowa State 73
No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Arizona
Every four-seed made the Sweet 16, and three of them will face the No. 1. Enter the Aztecs who survived an overtime four-point win over New Mexico State and sent upstart North Dakota State packing for the third Sweet 16 in school history. Arizona may have the best one-two punch left in the tournament in forward Aaron Gordon and guard Nick Johnson, with freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson a game changer off the bench.
Prediction: Arizona over San Diego State
No. 2 Wisconsin -4 vs. No. 6 Baylor
The Badgers own the distinction of widest margin of victory in a single game this season after blowing out American by 40 in the second round, and quickly dispatched Oregon to make their third Sweet 16 in the last four years. Baylor crushed Creighton by 30 in the second round and can make its third regional final since 2010 by tipping Wisconsin.
Prediction: Wisconsin 62, Baylor 60
No. 2 Michigan -2.5 vs. No. 11 Tennessee
Jarnell Stokes, Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson have carried the Volunteers, but they still haven’t solved their troubles from the three-point line. Tennessee shot 32.6 percent from three in the regular season, but have been worse in the tournament shooting 8-for-36. Michigan’s Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert have shot better than 40 percent from deep this year, and the Wolverines haven’t really been tested yet in the tournament.
Prediction: Michigan 80, Tennessee 72
No. 4 Louisville -5 vs. No. 8 Kentucky
Bragging rights throughout the state of Kentucky will be on the line as the rivals meet for the sixth time in tournament history. The Wildcats took the most recent meeting during their title run two years ago. Defending champion Louisville and Russ Smith survived Manhattan’s late surge with a breathtaking offensive burst and have way more experience than Kentucky. But the Wildcats are clicking at the right time and head coach John Calipari has led a raw group of freshmen on a title run before.
Prediction: Louisville 76, Kentucky 69