FIBA World Cup Schedule 2014: Complete Preview for Preliminary Round of Tourney

The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup gives fans of international basketball the opportunity to watch their favorite nations in action outside of Olympic play.

Hosted by Spain, the 2014 FIBA tournament is going to be filled with excitement. The Spanish team is loaded with talent, evidenced by its silver medal in the 2012 Olympics. Its main competition is the United States, a team that won gold in the Olympics and also won 2010′s installment of this tournament against host nation Turkey.

The two teams have plenty of history, and they’ll enter the tournament as likely favorites to take home the top spot. Before group play gets underway, we’ll have to get through the preliminary rounds. The entire preliminary schedule can be found below.

 

Preliminary Round Schedule

Preliminary schedule is courtesy of NBA.com.

 

United States

Kevin Durant has pulled out of the FIBA tournament, and Paul George will miss out on the tournament because of a terrible injury he suffered in a scrimmage. Regardless, this team is poised to dominate in Spain.

Of course, it won’t be easy. Team USA’s schedule is a grueling one, and that even includes its pre-tournament tuneups. Nick Gallo of NBA.com broke down the team’s itinerary:

The United States’ training in Las Vegas ends on August 1st with the USA Basketball Showcase at 8:00 p.m. CDT. The team will then travel to Chicago, Ill. For two more days of training and an exhibition game against Brazil on August 16th at 8:00 p.m. CT. From August 18th-22nd, the United States squad will be training in New York City, squaring off against the Dominican Republic on August 20th and Puerto Rico on August 22nd in two more exhibition games before departing for Spain. Training camp concludes for the Untied States in Gran Canaria, Spain with two days of practice and a final exhibition tune-up against Slovenia on August 26th.

That’s a lot of basketball, but the tuneups will be necessary for success in this tournament. Basketball is a game of consistency, and it’s hard to find consistency if you aren’t playing consistently. Makes sense.

Team USA’s exhibition against Brazil is Saturday evening, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski has already named four of his five starters for the game, tweets NBC’s Kurt Helin:

The other spot won’t be occupied by DeMarcus Cousins, as SportsCenter tweeted that he won’t play in the contest:

Even without Durant, George and now Cousins (for at least one game), the United States have the weapons to make noise. Just look at the four listed in the starting lineup. Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis are a scary quartet on the floor.

This lineup might be fluid during exhibition games as Coach K works out the kinks with his roster, but there are multiple candidates to start games on this stacked roster.

 

Spain

The Spanish team is loaded with talent.

Serge Ibaka, Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol are the three headliners. This frontcourt is absolutely dominant in every facet of the game, so it will be interesting to see how teams combat these big bodies.

Veterans like Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez and Juan-Carlos Navarro are also set to play well. They’ve proved themselves in international competition in the past, making them candidates to help keep the offense flowing efficiently.

Ricky Rubio is the X-factor for the Spanish. Everyone is aware of his incredible passing ability. It’s that ability that’s going to help Spain confuse opposing defenses and get easy baskets, so in that regard, Rubio is a plus.

But then there’s Rubio‘s ineffective jump shot.

Rubio isn’t a good shooter. The whole world knows it. Sometimes he himself doesn’t, however. Rubio tends to lean on that jumper a bit too much, and if he does that in this tournament, Spain will lose a good amount of their dominance.

Playing in front of their home fans gives Spain an edge, but there is certainly something playing against them. If Rubio realizes that he needs to dish before shooting, Spain can challenge the United States.

 

Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Florida, Georgetown meet in Atlantis first round (Yahoo Sports)

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Final Four teams Florida and Wisconsin could meet in the semifinals of the fourth annual Battle 4 Atlantis.

View full post on Yahoo Sports – NCAA Men’s Hoops News

Report: Bucks would trade 2nd round pick for Jason Kidd

After an up-and-down season with the Brooklyn Nets, Jason Kidd will become the Milwaukee Bucks head coach for the 2014-15 season and beyond if the team relinquishes its 2015 second-round draft pick, according to an ESPN.com report. A source told ESPN.com that the Nets are looking for a first-round pick, and the Bucks are offering a second-rounder. So if the two parties can agree, the deal will likely happen. “If the Nets agree then there will be a deal, if they don’t then (the Bucks) are comfortable moving on and there will be nothing further to talk about,” said the source. “The only thing (the Bucks) would give them is a second-round pick. They want a first. In the next 24 hours, there will either be a deal or there won’t be a deal.” The report states that Bucks co-owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens met with Kidd Friday in New York City, and that Lasry had a previous relationship with him. The possibility of having Kidd coach a young Bucks team is promising. The team is rebuilding, and Kidd’s coa

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Joel Embiid thought he would fall to second round

Joel Embiid’s offseason foot injury likely cost him the No. 1 overall selection in Thursday’s NBA draft and he ultimately only fell two spots to Philadelphia at No. 3. However, the former Kansas 7-footer thought the injury would drop him to the second round. “I mean I thought I was going to drop to the second round. I was kind of surprised they took me at three,” Embiid told Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World on Friday. Despite the injury, no noteworthy draft site or analyst predicted the former Jayhawk would fall outside of the top 10. “People were talking everywhere, on social media. I bought into that,” Embiid added. He and his family watched the draft at the house of his agent Arn Tellum in Los Angeles and was given no indication that the 76ers were considering selecting him before hearing NBA commissioner Adam Silver call his name.   [Lawrence Journal-World]   Photo Courtesy: Jamie Squire/Getty Images Article found on: Next Impulse Sports

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Joel Embiid Thought Injury Might Drop Him into 2nd Round of 2014 NBA Draft

Had he been injury-free, Joel Embiid would have very likely been taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 overall pick. Falling to the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3 constituted something of a slide, but if you ask Embiid himself, things could have been much worse.

The 20-year-old talked about his draft experience on The Dan Patrick Show, and according to CSNPhilly.com’s Enrico Campitelli, “He thought, after suffering the stress fracture in his foot, he could fall into the teens or even all the way into the second round.”

Embiid‘s loss was certainly the Sixers’ gain. Had health concerns and his need for foot surgery not emerged, chances are he wouldn’t have been available with the No. 3 overall selection.

“I sniffed opportunity,” said general manager Sam Hinkie, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.com. “The moment he got hurt, we thought we might get him. We might be just the organization with just the set of owners, and we might be the one to do it.”

While recovering from surgery, Embiid wasn‘t able to make it to the draft in Brooklyn.

“This wasn’t how I imagined going into the NBA,” Embiid told Bleacher Report’s Jason King. “But I’ll take it.”

Despite the setback, all should end well for the University of Kansas product.

Per King, “Less than four years removed from his first game of organized basketball, the Cameroon native is now being hailed as one of the top big man prospects in recent memory. Embiid will make $11,567,300 over the next three years.”

Hinkie believes it will take Embiid between five and eight months to fully recover, but head coach Brett Brown is already contemplating how he’ll be used.

“I do think that Joel and Nerlens can co-exist,” Brown told reporters. “I think I can find a way to play those two guys together. It’s a really good problem to have.”

In the meantime, all indications are that Philly will suffer through another abysmal season—this time with a healthy Nerlens Noel joining Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams. Some will no doubt label Hinkie‘s team-building as a form of “tanking,” but you can’t argue that he’s done a masterful job of collecting assets.

And Embiid is chief among them.

As Hinkie told reporters, “If he can remain healthy, he can have a fantastic, fantastic NBA career.”

[YouTube]

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

NBA Draft 2014: Players Who Will Make Surprising Rise into Round 1

Workouts don’t guarantee first-round selections in the 2014 NBA draft.

None of the prospects on this list has worked out for a team. But on draft night, they’ll hear their names called in Round 1—to the surprise of causal fans who’ll react by asking, “Who?”

 

PG Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado

21 years old, 6’6″, 205 pounds

Junior stats: 14.7 points, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game

Prediction: 28th overall to the Los Angeles Clippers

ESPN Los Angeles’ Arash Markazi reported that Darren Collison will opt out of his contract and become a free agent this offseason. Collison averaged 11.4 points and 3.7 assists per game this year. He deserves a huge raise from the $1.9 million he would’ve made this season had he opted in.

Unless Los Angeles is determined to give him this raise, which is unlikely, it must draft a point guard on Thursday. Collison had too much production to risk not replacing him.

Enter Dinwiddie. He was a first-round prospect before tearing his ACL in January. And according to ESPN Los Angeles’ Ramona Shelburne, he’s received an invite from the Clippers to their facility.

There’s a huge need for point guards in the league. And despite the fact that Dinwiddie is rated lower than Dante Exum, Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton, Zach LaVine, Tyler Ennis, Shabazz Napier and Jordan Clarkson, all of them will likely be gone by the time Los Angeles is on the clock.

 

SF Damien Inglis, France

19 years old, 6’8″, 240 pounds

2013-14 French League stats: 4.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.6 steals per game (in 15.3 minutes)

Prediction: 29th overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City didn’t have an answer when the San Antonio Spurs played small with Boris Diaw in Games 5 and 6 of the Western Conference Finals. In those two contests, he recorded 39 points, nine rebounds and five assists. And 15 of those points came off threes.

The Thunder’s answer to Diaw and any team that tries to spread the floor against it: Inglis. The French forward’s agent originally tweeted that he had withdrawn from the draft but rescinded the announcement later that day, according to DraftExpress‘ Jonathan Givony:

Inglis has the athleticism to play the 3 in a typical Oklahoma City rotation, and he has the size to play the 4 when it plays small. He’s an ideal role player due to top-notch defense and an improving three-point-shooting ability, having shot 38.7 percent from downtown this season.

 

PF Nikola Jokic, Serbia

19 years old, 6’11″, 253 pounds

2013-2014 Adriatic League stats: 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game

Prediction: 30th overall to the San Antonio Spurs

Speaking of Diaw, he’s a free agent. Even if he re-signs, he’s 32 years old andgiven how valuable he was to the Spurs’ championship-runmust be replaced eventually with another point forward.

Kyle Anderson would be ideal, but after the Charlotte Hornets’ Josh McRoberts opted out of his contract, it created another need for a 4, which will likely prevent Anderson from falling to No. 30. Jokic is a great plan B.

His combination of size and skills couldn’t be much rarer. He averaged 0.6 threes and 2.0 assists per game this season, showing off the ability to be a larger version of Diaw.

 

David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

2014 NBA Draft: Teams Facing the Most Pressure to Nail 1st Round Pick

Companies across the world stress over personnel decisions. The hiring process can prove especially costly when handled incorrectly, a fact not lost on NBA organizations eager to select the most capable employees from this year’s draft.

The draft is a highly important portal to assembling a championship squad. The San Antonio Spurs are a prime example of this. In addition to getting lucky and winning the lottery the year Tim Duncan went pro, they gambled on Tony Parker late in the 2001 first round, stole Manu Ginobli during Round 2 of 1999′s draft and orchestrated a draft-day trade for Kawhi Leonard in 2011.  

Top teams can bolster their championship chances with a strong pick or two, but most of them are playing the waiting game on long-term prospects. Teams in the lottery need someone to erase the stench of losing and spray the air with hope.

These teams especially can’t afford a dud on draft night. Each holding a top-10 pick in one of the most anticipated prospect groups, they need to find a gem to avoid another long year.

 

When: Thursday, June 26 at Barclays Center (Brooklyn, New York)

TV: ESPN

Live StreamNBA.com, WatchESPN

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

A gift fell from the sky, well more accurately a sealed envelope, when the Cleveland Cavaliers received the No. 1 pick for the second straight year despite finishing with the NBA’s eighth-worst record.

Last year, they squandered their good fortune by drafting Anthony Bennett, who averaged 4.2 points per game with a 6.95 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) during his horrid rookie campaign, according to ESPN.com. They can’t afford to acquire another bust this time around.

The good news for the Cavs: They have much better choices this year. Then again, those choices make for one tough decision that could live in infamy if bungled.

Kansas’ Joel Embiid looked like the front-runner for the No. 1 choice, but the latest news of a foot injury that will require surgery, per ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, puts that into grave jeopardy.

The young center missed the NCAA tournament with a back injury, which was previously the chief concern among interested suitors. Cleveland would take a massive leap of faith by tossing caution aside and selecting him over Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.

This latest daunting news could force Cleveland’s hand into looking past the 7-footer. For the Cavaliers’ sake, it’s better the injury happened now rather than two months into his pro career. They need a player who will make an immediate and significant impact.

Since losing LeBron James, they have gone 97-215 (31.1 winning percentage) and have one more year before Kyrie Irving becomes a restricted free agent.

Last season wasn’t even supposed to be a rebuilding season, as they traded for veteran Luol Deng, whose contract has now expired, in hopes of jolting their playoff push. In what’s billed as the most intriguing group of young stars since the class that netted them James, they can’t afford to come away without his heir apparent.

 

Orlando Magic

Slowly rebuilding to something promising, the Orlando Magic have a good amount of cap space and some promising young pieces in wake of trading Dwight Howard. Now they have two more lottery picks (No. 4, No. 12) at their disposal to expedite the healing process.

Falling down a spot in the lottery hurt them the most, as they slipped outside the top three in a draft lauded for its three game-changing teenagers. That leaves them with the unenviable chance of locating the fourth-best player

The news of Embiid‘s injury, however, makes Orlando’s first choice all the more interesting. It now can’t be ruled out the first three teams foregoing the freshman center, tasking Orlando with a difficult decision.

Australian guard Dante Exum is a wild card, but he could pay massive dividends running the show in Orlando. According to Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix, the team is considering the international prospect along with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh.

Assuming they get Exum or Smart with their first pick, they should look for a shooter to space the floor. Think Doug McDermott, Nik Stauskas or Croatia’s Dario Saric.

Aaron Afflalo blossomed into an underrated star. Nikola Vucevic shows great promise at center, and Victor Oladipo was often one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dim rookie class. Two valuable newcomers can make the Magic a real force as they look to ascend back up the Eastern Conference ladder.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

Certain fanbases are not known for their patience. It doesn’t help when the team’s 35-year-old star just signed a massive two-year, $48.5 million extension despite playing six games during the 2013-14 season.

Other than Kobe Bryant and one more year of the rusty Steve Nash, the Los Angeles Lakers can wipe away their entire roster and start anew. With that surplus of salary space, they’re the type of team to chase star talent via trades and free agency rather than slowly build through drafting.

That amplifies the pressure for them to strike gold on their No. 7 pick, a guy tasked with immediately becoming the second-biggest draw in one of sports’ most illustrious organizations. 

Given their void of talent, it might make sense for them to trade down and stockpile picks. According to ESPNLosAngeles.com’ Dave McMenamin, that’s not a route they’re interested in taking, as they’d rather chase the likes of Marcus Smart and Julius Randle.

Whether the Lakers end up picking Smart, Randle, or somebody else, the team is leaning towards keeping their No. 7 pick rather than trading down in order to acquire multiple picks, according to a source with knowledge of their thinking. 

While it’s widely believed that there is a gap in the talent available after Kansas’ Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker go off the board, the Lakers feel there is another gap between the player they have rated 10th versus who they have at 11th and below, so it’s not like they could flip their pick for say Phoenix’s No. 14 and No. 18 picks and still come out in with a player they are totally sold on. 

The top guys left for them, most notably Smart, Randle and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon are not franchise saviors, but they’re all considerable talents that bring something to the table. Smart is a physical guard and ball distributor who can solidify their revolving door of point guards. Randle is a post-up artist who racked up the double-doubles in Kentucky, and Gordon led the NCAA with 3.3 defensive win shares, per Sports-Reference.

With Pau Gasol leaving, their best bet is to obtain a big man to fill his shoes. Considering they ranked 28th with 110.6 points allowed per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference, Gordon’s defensive savvy would be a welcome fit for the Lakers. His explosive athleticism would also challenge Blake Griffin for highlight-reel supremacy in the Staples Center.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Sweet 16 Schedule: Complete Viewing Guide and Bracket Picks for Next Round

A diverse Sweet 16 with entertaining matchups lingers as a promise to end our NCAA tournament withdrawals. After the intensity of the second and third rounds rattled our senses for four straight days, a four-day layoff from the action passes painstakingly slow.

This Sweet 16 will be worth the wait. There are top matchups and Cinderellas. For instance, three games are chalk with a No. 1 seed battling a No. 4 seed. That is it for chalk matchups, however. 

There are three double-digit seeds along with teams seeded eight, seven and six all playing in this round. According to VegasInsider.com, there also isn’t one game with a spread larger than six points. It is going to be a fun round.

Have a look at the schedule and my picks, and then I’ll get in depth on a few of my prognostications.  

 

All Your Bracket Essentials

 

West: Baylor over Wisconsin 

The Baylor Bears are a team on a mission. They have won 12 of their last 14 and are still haven’t hit their ceiling. 

The Bears won by 14 in the second round over Nebraska and then smothered No. 3 seed Creighton by 30 last round. In that game, the Bears appeared to be vulnerable on defense, as they largely rely on zone defense and Creighton is the best three-point shooting team in the nation. Baylor’s defense was outstanding and it held Creighton to just 5-of-24 shooting from beyond the arc. 

This team has everything needed for tournament success. Junior point guard Kenny Chery struggled with injuries this season, but he closed the season strong and he gives the Bears the steady floor leader needed for tournament success. 

The Bears also have a strong inside presence with Cory Jefferson. The senior forward has combined to score 30 points and 10 rebounds in his two tournament games. He teams with 7’1″ center Isaiah Austin to give the Bears the length needed to handle the Wisconsin frontcourt duo of Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky

The Badgers struggled in the first half against Oregon in the last round, but they settled in and took control in the second half. 

Wisconsin used a balanced offensive attack in that game and had five players score at least 12 points. 

The Badgers will face a much stiffer defense in this game, and the Bears will limit Wisconsin’s shots by owning the boards. Baylor is 24th in the nation in rebounding and Wisconsin is 261st. 

Prediction: Baylor 74, Wisconsin 67

 

East: Connecticut over Iowa State

The news in the following tweet from Eye on College BBall put a damper on Iowa State’s title hopes:

For the season, Georges Niang averaged 16.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Needless to say, his loss is a big one. Still, his absence didn’t stop the Cyclones from beating North Carolina last round, 85-83.

The Cyclones have been an offensive power all season, but will find a tougher time finding buckets against the Huskies. UConn ranks 37th in the nation in scoring defense.

The real problem for the Cyclones is they won’t be able to outscore the Huskies because their defense won’t allow it.

Iowa State ranks 284th in the country in scoring defense, and now it must try to slow down one of the hottest players in the country in Shabazz Napier.  

Speaking to the press, Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg was full of praise for his upcoming opponents, and he knows that Huskies star Napier presents a unique problem. William S. Paxton, of ctpost.com, passed along this Hoiberg quote: 

The one thing with playing in the Big 12, you’re going to prepare yourself for this moment, you’re going to face every style, every system, great guards, great big men. But this kid presents a little different challenge because of how explosive he is, his ability to get in the paint and hit shots, especially shots at tough times. 

Napier averages 17.4 points per game for the season, and he’s combined to score 49 points in his two tournament games this year.

The Cyclones will battle in this game, but the Huskies will wear down their short-handed opponents and pull away at the end.

Prediction: UConn 83, Iowa State 74 

 

East: Michigan State over Virginia

The No. 4 seeds in this year’s tournament have proven to be a very strong group. The Spartans are a great example and are actually the favored team in this matchup at places like VegasInsider.com. 

The Cavaliers led the nation in points allowed and are looking to ride that defense to the championship. In double-digit victories in their two tournament games, the Cavaliers have allowed an average of 59.5 points per game. 

That is four points more than their season average. Typically, that wouldn’t be worth noting. In this instance, it is. The Cavaliers are the last ACC team alive in this tournament. The conference has not proven to be as tough as expected. This puts the Cavaliers 16-2 record and that fabulous defense into question. 

Now, this doesn’t mean the Cavaliers’ defense is a complete fraud, it just tells me it won’t have as much success as it needs to beat the Spartans. 

With Keith Appling and Travis Trice, the Spartans have two point guards equipped to handle Virginia’s pressure. The Spartans’ frontcourt will take care of the rest. 

Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson have been spectacular in this tournament. The pair have combined to average 14.5 rebounds and 44.5 points per game. This is going to be a great and physical game, which Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel hints at below: 

The Spartans will prove to be too much, and will wear down the Cavaliers. 

Prediction:Michigan State 67, Virginia 63 

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Sweet 16 2014: Bracket’s Best Odds for Next Round of NCAA Tournament

Despite there being three double-digit seeds and a No. 8 seed in the Sweet 16, not one spread for Thursday and Friday’s action is greater than six points.

We are headed for another wild round of college basketball with the possibility of multiple upsets. There is no such thing as a sure bet in this Sweet 16.

Still, there are several plays that can be made with confidence.

Have a look at the schedule and spreads for the upcoming round, and then I’ll point out the three most exploitable spreads for the round.  

 

All Your Bracket Essentials

 

 

West: Baylor +3 vs. Wisconsin 

Prior to the tournament, I had Baylor penned in as the winner of the West. Arizona’s strong performance as the No. 1 seed has me a little nervous about that pick, but Baylor has looked as strong as I expected. 

The Bears beat a battle-tested Nebraska team by 14 in the second round and then humiliated No. 3 seed Creighton, 85-55. 

The Bears were dominant on offense and defense in that one. Jeff Potrykus in the Journal Sentinel passed along this quote from CBS analyst Clark Kellogg on the Bears’ strong performance: ”The zone defense has really picked up, and offensively they have found a rhythm.”

Meanwhile, the Badgers needed a second-half comeback to beat No. 7 seed Oregon in order to advance to the Sweet 16. 

The Bears’ zone defense is performing at such a high level it was able to shut down a Creighton offense with shooters like Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge

The Bears will be able to frustrate Wisconsin’s offense and then use their balanced offensive attack to come out on top. 

Prediction: Baylor 74, Wisconsin 67

 

Midwest: Louisville -5 vs. Kentucky

This in-state rivalry is going to take center stage in the Sweet 16, and there are ample reasons to like the underdogs in this matchup. 

Kentucky played fantastic while downing No. 1 seed Wichita State. The Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, were outstanding in the backcourt, and Julius Randle was dominant down low. 

On top of that, Kentucky beat Louisville, 73-66, on Dec. 28. 

Still, the defending champions are the smart play here. For starters, head coach Rick Pitino is a remarkable 11-0 in the Sweet 16. 

Pitino will use that experience to help the Cardinals perform at their best, which they have yet to do this tournament. While beating St. Louis by 14 last round, the Cardinals still had 19 turnovers. 

After that game, Pitino, as quoted by CBS Sports’ Chip Patterson, said his squad was “the prettiest team in an ugly game.”

Against Kentucky, Louisville will use its experience and defensive pressure to force the inconsistent Wildcats into a poor game. 

Randle and center Willie Cauley-Stein provide a strong inside presence for Kentucky, but Montrezl Harrell and Stephan Van Treese will allow Louisville to still find success on the boards and limit Kentucky’s inside scoring. 

That will put too much pressure on the twins in the backcourt. This will wear Kentucky down and pave the way for a Louisville victory. 

Prediction: Louisville 69, Kentucky 60

 

East: Michigan State -2 vs. Virginia  

This is going to be a great game. All the evidence we need of that is in the fact that the No. 1 seed is the underdog. 

I really like this Virginia team. The Cavaliers bring excellent defense and a steady and consistent approach. This is not a good matchup for the Cavaliers, however. 

With point guards Keith Appling and Travis Trice, the Spartans have the floor leaders to not wilt in the face of Virginia’s pressure. That will allow the Spartans to flex their interior muscle with Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson to take over. The pair is averaging a combined 14.5 rebounds and 44.5 points per game.

BTN.com’s Brent Yarina helped point out their success: 

Virginia has talent down low with Mike Tobey and Akil Mitchell, but that duo won’t be able to beat the Spartans’ pair for a whole game. 

The ACC has underperformed in this tournament, and Virginia’s 16-2 conference record is not quite as impressive as it once was. 

Give me coach Tom Izzo and this talented team, and I’m comfortable giving up two points. 

Prediction: Michigan State 74, Virginia 67

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

NCAA Bracket 2014: Updated Schedule and Predictions After Day 2 of 3rd Round

Many 2014 NCAA tournament brackets remain on life support as the Sweet 16 has now come to fruition. After a slew of surprising upsets, March Madness continues to be as wild as ever. That’s guaranteed to continue going forward.

With just 16 teams remaining, and each vying for the coveted title of national champions, the tournament’s remaining games will see heightened levels of intensity. Who would want to miss a moment of the upcoming action? Nobody.

Let’s take a look at the updated tournament schedule and viewing information, and follow that up by predicting which remaining teams will advance to the Elite Eight.

 

Updated Schedule

All of the Sweet 16 action can be live streamed on NCAA.com.

 

Updated Predictions

 

Analysis

No. 1 Florida should continue to roll into the Elite Eight. The Gators face a very solid UCLA team in the Sweet 16; however, UCLA’s 12th-ranked offense won’t get enough good looks from Florida’s third-ranked defense.

The Bruins shot 54.7 percent from the field against Stephen F. Austin on Sunday but only managed to connect on four of their 14 attempts from downtown. That simply won’t get it done against the Gators.

No. 11 Dayton will continue its improbable surge against No. 10 Stanford. Dayton has faced two very tough squads and has come away with impressive close victories in each.

After defeating Ohio State 60-59 and then Syracuse 55-53, this team has showed the moxie and resilience it takes to go deep into the NCAA tournament. That will get Dayton anther win and propel the team to the Elite Eight.

Virginia and Michigan State figures to be the most highly anticipated Sweet 16 matchup. Virginia looked great on Sunday, trouncing Memphis. However, the Cavaliers are a one-dimensional team. They rely heavily on defense and are inconsistent on the offensive end.

Michigan State is a well-rounded team on both sides of the court. It has an aggressive offense, solid defense, tons of experience and one of the best coaches in the nations. These will all be contributing factors in a huge upset victory.

Iowa State’s offense has just been ridiculous lately. After scoring 93 points in Round 2, the team followed that up with an 85-point performance in a close Round 3 victory. Connecticut simply doesn’t have the firepower to keep up in this one.

Although San Diego State has looked good of late, Arizona has looked better. After trouncing a very good Gonzaga team by a score of 84-61 on Sunday, the Wildcats re-established themselves as top contenders. They’ll ride that momentum into the Elite Eight.

Wisconsin has just looked dominant lately. Although, so has Baylor. The difference in this matchup will be Wisconsin’s consistency on the defensive end. The Badgers have been riding a late-season surge and continue to produce offensively while making it difficult for opponents to keep up.

Kentucky looked great against Wichita State on Sunday. Louisville, on the other hand, struggled in a big way against Saint Louis. However, this is where head coach Rick Pitino comes in. His team has been struggling, and his experience in this situation will allow the Cardinals to right the ship and shape up in time to earn another win.

Even though Tennessee has been fantastic over the late portion of the season, there are few hotter teams than Michigan right now. The Wolverines absolutely put on a clinic against Texas in the round of 32. The hot streak and momentum gained from that game will carry the team through to the Elite Eight.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Next Page »