There have been some shocking upsets so far in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. A few are still alive and want the fairytale to not fade away. Dayton, Stanford, UConn and Tennessee hope to go even deeper in the tournament.
Tournament favorites Louisville, Michigan State and Florida are still alive. Many of the pundits have these three teams winning it all or meeting in the Final Four. I think they all have a shot at winning in the Sweet Sixteen.
One of the most intriguing match-ups is in Indianapolis. Kentucky faces in-state rival Louisville. The Wildcats beat them in December, but the teams have changed over the course of the season. Will the outcome be the same?
I pick all the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen games against the spread.
Dayton vs Stanford (-3) – My pick is Stanford Cardinal
If you feel strongly about Stanford, bet the line, but if you think Dayton will cover the spread, you might as well bet the +145 moneyline. Dayton had two inspired victories in a row. That takes a lot out of a mid-major underdog. Stanford faced great Pac-12 opponents all season and they are more prepared for the pressure. I love Dayton’s story, but Stanford should cover.
Baylor vs Wisconsin (-3.5) – My pick is Baylor Bears
This game is a difference in styles. Baylor has the bodies to bang in the paint and Wisconsin lives and dies by with perimeter shots. Baylor shut down Doug McDermott in their last game and no one on Wisconsin is on McDermott’s level. It’s true Wisconsin has more shooters to stop, but I love Baylor in this game. If Wisconsin misses a three, the odds of them getting a offensive rebound are slim to none. Baylor’s Isaiah Austin is a legit NBA prospect and Cory Jefferson and Royce O’Neale aren’t too shabby.
UCLA vs Florida (-4.5) – My pick is Florida Gators
I like UCLA (mostly Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson), but Florida’s win over Pitt really impressed me. They out-rebounded them and Scottie Wilbekin had a coming out party. UCLA has yet to really be challenged in the tournament thus far. I like the Gators to go very far in the tournament. I would also bet the under in this game (137).
San Diego State vs Arizona (-7.5) – My pick is San Diego Aztecs
I think Arizona may win this game, but they haven’t rebounded well in the tournament. The fact that San Diego State is one of the better defending teams in the tournament makes rebounding even more important. Arizona have won their last two games by taking high-percentage shots. SDSU’s defense will cause them to take contested shots. The SDSU moneyline is +275 is very intriguing.
Tennessee vs Michigan (-2.5) – My pick is Michigan Wolverines
Three weeks ago, it looked like UT head coach Cuonzo Martin was out the door. The Vols barely made the tourney, but have made the most out of it. Jarnell Stokes has been the biggest reason for their turnaround. He has averaged 15 rebounds per game in their three tournament games. Michgan and UT both have a balanced attack and spread the points among their starters. Michigan’s overall talent is better than UT. Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III made it far in the tourney last season and know what it takes to win. That experience will be the difference in this game.
UConn vs Iowa State (-2) – My pick is Iowa State Cyclones
This game will be played in Madison Square Garden in NYC…practically a home game for UConn. The building will be full of UConn fans, but Iowa State matches up well. This game will be the Shabazz Napier & Melvin Ejim show. Both are NBA prospects and have proven themselves so far in this tournament. Iowa State will be without Georges Niang, but DeAndre Kane stepped up with a great game against North Carolina. I know many people expect ISU to falter without Niang, but I think they’ll pull out the win and cover.
Kentucky vs Louisville (-4.5) – My pick is Louisville Cardinals
I know Kentucky beat Louisville back in December, but throw that victory out the window. Louisville is a different team with Luke Hancock playing a bigger role and the improvement of Montrezl Harrell. Harrell is the most improved player in college basketball from the beginning to the end of a season. Kentucky is also a different team, since they have 30+ games playing together. Rick Pitino and John Calapari have faced each other a half dozen times in the NCAA Tournament. Pitino had the edge in most of those games. This may come down to free throws and Kentucky have struggled from the line in big games. I like Louisville to barely cover.
Michigan State vs Virginia (+2) – My pick is Michigan State Spartans
This is the first time I remember a #1 seed being an underdog in the Sweet Sixteen. The seeding was a bit screwy this year and this caused some odd betting lines this year. Michigan State were without many of their best players in the middle of the season and this caused their record to not reflect how good they really are. MSU’s Adreian Payne and Gary Harris are both MOP candidates. I know Virginia is good, but the Spartans are playing great.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.