It's time to hop back on the hoops horse, as the Sweet Sixteen kicks off this evening with a quartet of solid basketball games. Cinderella has had a rough time of it so far, as nine of sixteen #1-4 seeds are still alive, and #11 seed UCLA is the only team seeded in the bottom half of the bracket to make it this far. Tonight's schedule looks like this (as usual all TV times are eastern).
Thursday Sweet Sixteen Schedule
Midwest: (3) Notre Dame vs. (7) Wichita State, 7:15 p.m. (CBS)
West: (1) Wisconsin vs. (4) North Carolina, 7:47 p.m. (TBS)
Midwest: (1) Kentucky vs. (5) West Virginia, 9:45 p.m. (CBS)
West: (2) Arizona vs. (6) Xavier, 10:17 p.m. (TBS)
Again, long shots are almost surprisingly absent from this evening's action. There's not a team in any of these match ups who anyone is more than mildly surprised to see advance this far. Notre Dame/Wichita State is a matchup that I definitely didn't predict, but again, these are two good teams. I like Wichita State's chances the more I look at it, in no small part because they've been this far before.
Wisconsin will be with point guard Trayvon Jackson (though his minutes may be limited), but North Carolina may be without forward Kennedy Meeks. I've picked North Carolina in the Dawg Sports bracket challenge, but right now I'm not so sure about that.
Kentucky is a safe bet until proven otherwise in my mind. At this point it seems less likely that Coach Calipari's diaper dandies will suddenly start playing like freshmen. But then you never know.
Finally, Arizona gets Xavier, in a game which I expect the Wildcats to win. Arizona is just insanely athletic, one of the few teams on par with Kentucky in that respect. That's why I have them advancing all the way to the Final Four. And that's why they're almost certain to lose in the next two rounds.
This will also serve as our open comment thread for tonight's action. Enjoy, and....