NCAA Tournament 2014: Elite Eight matchups to watch on Sunday

Stephen Dunn

Michigan State plays Connecticut, while Kentucky gets the Wolverines.

SB Nation 2014 NCAA March Madness Coverage

The Final Four will be set when Sunday's action concludes, with a pair of Michigan teams looking to punch their ticket to Arlington against two storied programs. Three of these four teams were part of wild finishes on Friday night, and another action-packed night appears to be in the cards. Check out the matchups for Sunday's games in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 4 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 7 Connecticut Huskies: Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson vs. UConn's bigs

Adreian Payne exploded into the Tournament for Michigan State, scoring 41 points in the Spartans' debut against Delaware. And while Payne presents a challenge to any team with his length and shooting range, Branden Dawson is the player Connecticut should key on. The junior has been playing out of his mind -- his 24-point, 10-rebound performance against the Virginia Cavaliers was preceded by a 26 and nine against Harvard -- and will be instrumental moving forward.

Connecticut has a number of bigs that collectively make the Huskies one of the tougher defenses in the nation. KenPom has UConn as the 13th-ranked defensive unit, and 8th-best in defending the 2-point baskets. Amida Brimah is rated as the fourth-best shot blocker in the country, averaging 2.4 blocks per game in just over 16 minutes. DeAndre Daniels gets more floor time, blocking 1.4 shots per game in 29 minutes. But the hole in the Huskies defense in preventing offensive rebounds, ranking No. 260 in all of D-I college basketball.

Enter Dawson, who KenPom ranks as the 53rd best offensive rebounder in the country. In a pool of over 2,000 players, that's quite the distinction. He has been especially good at cleaning the glass lately, nabbing eight of his 27 total rebounds in the NCAA Tournament off Michigan State misses.

No. 2 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats: Nik Stauskas, Caris LaVert and Glenn Robinson III vs. Kentucky's rim protectors

Kentucky seven-footer Willie Cauley-Stein will miss the Wildcats' Elite 8 matchup against Michigan, leaving John Calipari without his best interior defender. Michigan has a roster full of talented dribble-drivers, highlighted by All-American candidate Nik Stauskas.

Sliding in for Cauley-Stein will be Dakari Johnson, another seven-footer who has shown flashes of his potential in his freshman season. Johnson dropped 15 on Louisville with Cauley-Stein sitting for most of the Sweet 16 game against the Cardinals, but his contributions on defense will be key. The Brooklyn-native averages 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes played, well below Cauley-Stein's 4.4 per 36 average.

Michigan runs the second-most effective offense in the country, according to KenPom. Stauskas is deadly all over the floor, listed as the 28th-most prolific shooter in college basketball. The Canadian import has unlimited range, but handles the ball well and can score off the dribble. So can Caris LaVert, who has emerged as one of the country's best rim attackers. Glenn Robinson III excels when he can run the baseline at the rim, using his unique athleticism to attack defenses from a different angle.

Kentucky will have an advantage on the glass, with rebounding machine Julius Randle on the block. But if the Wildcats can't make Michigan miss, Randle won't get a chance to use his elite skill on the defensive boards.

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