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NCAA Tournament | Sweet Sixteen Thursday Game Thread & Previews


SB Nation 2014 NCAA March Madness Coverage

Thursday's game/TV schedule

South (10) Stanford Cardinal vs. (11) Dayton Flyers FedExForum
Memphis, TN
715p CBS Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Rachel Nichols
West (2) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (6) Baylor Bears Honda Center
Anaheim, CA
747p TBS Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Craig Sager
South (1) Florida Gators vs. (4) UCLA Bruins FedExForum
Memphis, TN
945p CBS Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Rachel Nichols
West (1) Arizona Wildcats vs. (4) San Diego State Aztecs Honda Center
Anaheim, CA
1017p TBS Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Craig Sager

Tonight, the first half of the remaining sixteen teams take to the hardwood in their pursuit of being crowned as the NCAA's National Champion. Before the night ends, four teams will have secured a spot in the Elite Eight from the South Region as well as the West Region. Here is the run down on Thursday's games:

#11 Dayton Flyers vs #10 Stanford Cardinal
6:15 PM CST | FedEx Forum | Memphis (South Region)

Stanford possesses an immediate size advantage over their opponent in tonight's match-up. However, rebounding continues to be a struggle for the Cardinal squad. In short, second chance opportunities aren't readily available if this team finds themselves in a hole early. Regardless of the rebounding woes, this is a game that will be decided on perimeter play. Chasson Randle, the best offensive player on the court most nights, has moved over to play the point guard position after Aaron Bright made the decision to transfer.

On the other end of the court, the Flyers look to dismantle Stanford through perimeter shooting. Shooting 37.6% from beyond the arc as a team, Dayton is led by Devin Oliver and Dyshawn Pierre. The combo presents a real threat with each possession. The expectation is for Dayton to pressure their opponent into more than a handful of turnovers while limiting their own and continuing to shoot the ball well in order to secure a win.

Predictions| Rich: Dayton by 3

Matt: Dayton by 6

#6 Baylor Bears vs #2 Wisconsin Badgers
6:47 PM CST | Honda Center | Anaheim (West Region)

The Bears have talent and athleticism to go around. Yet, the biggest story line here is going to be the defense. After tweaking their zone to limit Creighton's Doug McDermott shooting ability, Baylor's next opponent who relies heavily on the 3-ball should be worried. Using an Memphis Grizzlies/Indiana Pacers type defense of funneling players off the three-point line into the paint where the giant, in this case Isaiah Austin, is waiting has worked well for Coach Scott Drew as of late. If the offense continues to churn out three-pointers with Brady Heslip and others while gaining second chance opportunities like they have all season lon, BU may pull off the upset.

Bo Ryan, the head coach of Wisconsin, possesses a brilliant basketball mind. Multiple factors must be weighed heading into tonight. With three reliable guards standing 6-3 or shorter, the Badgers defense focuses on moving players off the 3-point line as well but does not funnel the shooter to the paint. Regardless, Wisconsin will find itself in undesirable mismatches due to the length of their opponent. Coach Ryan needs to crack the code to an effective zone defense in order to win this game and move on to his second Elite 8.

Predictions | Rich: Baylor by 10

Matt: Wisconsin by 8

#4 UCLA Bruins vs #1 Florida Gators
8:45 PM CST | FedEx Forum | Memphis (South Region)

UCLA likes to play fast while getting out in transition. It's an odd combo when you think about Kyle Anderson, a 6-9 point guard who has earned the nickname "Slo-Mo." A unique style of play in tandem with unreal ball handling skills make Anderson a nightmare match-up for any defender. The question now becomes, where will the support come from when going against arguably the nation's best defense?

For the Florida Gators, it's all about defense tonight. Without a real scoring threat from range, Coach Billy Donovan has implemented a smothering 1-3-1 defense to utilize the length of his players. Combine that with the press deployed from time to time and it's easy to see why teams have struggled against Florida all season long. In an opposing style to their opponent, the Gators will attempt to set up a half-court offense. Scottie Wilbekin has a knack for rising to the occasion, sinking big time shots. He could be the difference maker assuming this game it too close for comfort.

Predictions | Rich: Florida by 9

Matt Florida by 13

#4 San Diego St. Aztecs vs #1 Arizona Wildcats
9:17 PM CST | Honda Center | Anaheim (West Region)

Unfortunately for SDSU, they are up against an opponent that's has recorded a win over the Aztecs this season. On the bright side, that was in November and much has changed since the 9-point loss. Dwayne Polee has taken on a vital role as of late and can be the difference maker in round two. A physical team, San Diego St. attempts to win games inside the arc with high percentage shots. Everything offensively runs through Xavier Thames who averages 16.8 points per game. Can any defense slow this kid down?

Headlined by names like Aaron Gordon, the Arizona Wildcats are an athletic bunch who thrive in the open court and struggle with halfcourt offense. Yet, the biggest strength of this No. 1 Seed is defense. Statistically the best defense in the country, it will be strength on strength as Nick Johnson is the candidate likely tasked with slowing down Thames. Of course, it isn't called March Madness without reason. If Zona fails to pull away, free throw shooting will hurt them in the closing minutes. With three players shooting below 67% from the charity stripe, this could be interesting.

Predictions | Rich: Arizona by 11

Matt: Arizona by 15

CCM Bracket Pick'em Standings

Rank Owner Bracket Correct Picks Points Possible Pts
1 ALXMAC ALXMAC's Bracket 36 47 107
2 philb Gas Passer 35 46 138
2 Mark My Reasonable Bracket 35 46 166
2 Kent Winner Winner Chicken Dinner 36 46 162
2 Jon Jon's Awe-Inspiring Bracket 36 46 166
6 Wink Kopczynski Wink Kopczynski's Bracket 35 45 141
6 Matt CC Machine 35 45 153
6 Chiranth CSAB! 34 45 157
9 Justin jswane 34 44 164
9 AdamJ The empty Flame bandwagon 34 44 156
9 Superman Superman's Grand Bracket 35 44 152