Sweet 16 Midwest Region preview
By David Fox
Kentucky’s bid for an undefeated season will have to go through West Virginia, the team that in 2010 beat what was arguably John Calipari’s best team in Lexington.
In the other regional semifinal, Wichita State and Notre Dame will try to re-orient themselves for an emotional — for very different reasons — Sweet 16 game.
Here’s a look at the Midwest Regional in Cleveland at a glance.
No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (7:15 p.m., CBS)
No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 1 Kentucky (approx. 9:45 p.m., CBS)
Top Five Players
1. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
3. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
4. Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
5. Ron Baker. Wichita State
Top Dog — Kentucky
Kentucky has done nothing to change the perception that it is the top dog of the entire Tournament. In the round of 32, Cincinnati gave the Wildcats some difficulty early on, but Kentucky’s depth and length was too much to handle. The Bearcats tried to get under Kentucky’s skin with a physical game to no avail. If anything was an issue, Kentucky’s guards had an off game against Cincinnati. Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis combined to shoot 12-of-34 from the field overall and 4-of-15 from 3.
Underdog — Wichita State
A disclaimer: the underdog label is not appropriate for Wichita State. In the last three years, Wichita State has gone to the Final Four, started a season 35-0 and conquered Kansas in the round of 32. The Shockers have accomplished more in recent years than its Sweet 16 opponent, Notre Dame. But No. 7 Wichita State is the lowest-seeded team remaining in the region. After the build-up to the anticipated matchup with the Jayhawks, the Shockers’ energy levels will be a storyline to watch.
Kentucky vs. West Virginia again
Kentucky and West Virginia have met in the NCAA Tournament three times since John Calipari and Bob Huggins have been at their current posts. The most recent was a 71-63 Kentucky win in the round of 32 in 2011. The most memorable was in the 2010 Elite Eight when fourth-seeded West Virginia upset a top-seeded Kentucky team led by John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. This year’s meeting will be just as compelling when undefeated Kentucky faces West Virginia’s relentless pressure. The Wildcats will face back-to-back physical opponents in Cincinnati and West Virginia before they get to the Elite Eight.
“I'd talk to her during the season and very rarely did I get ‘hey, Mike, how you doing?’ It's like, ‘Have you got them ready? Are they ready? I think we can beat Duke, Mike.’ It's unbelievable. She was intense.”
- Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who revealed Saturday his mother, Betty Brey, died the morning of the Notre Dame’s 67-64 overtime win over Butler.
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