2014 NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16 Preview, TV Times, and Open Thread

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee and Kentucky are playing tonight for the chance to play each other.

11 Tennessee vs. 2 Michigan, 7:15 pm ET, CBS

Chris Novak wrote a great preview of this one earlier today. Go read up on it if you haven't already.

8 Kentucky vs. 4 Louisville, 9:45 pm ET, CBS

Every so often, the NCAA Tournament will give us a bonus round of a rivalry. I don't know that many people thought this one would happen given UK's 8-seed, but here we go again. With the game in Indianapolis, it should be a pretty raucous environment.

The natural first place to go is the first game played between these teams. Kentucky prevailed 73-66 in Rupp Arena on December 28. Julius Randle had a pretty good game, scoring 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, but he missed some time in the game due to cramps. James Young led the way with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while the Harrison twins combined for 28 points. Russ Smith had 19 for the Cardinals, but he shot just 35% and missed all of this threes. Chris Jones was the only other in double figures with 18, and UL shot under 40% on the game.

I'm not sure if there's an overarching narrative to build off of that game, other than that it was Kentucky's signature win that made sure its dance ticket was never in doubt. UK certainly played well that afternoon, outrebounding the Cardinals 44-36 and shooting a better percentage from the field. The Wildcats probably should have won by a bit more, considering they shot 15 percentage points below their season average from the free throw line.

UK's size does present a challenge on the boards, but it's not necessarily going to be a deciding factor. It's true that UL's opponents outrebounded it in all five Cardinal losses, but SMU beat it on the boards worse than Kentucky did in a 71-63 loss in January. UK is a better team than SMU is of course, but it takes more than just a rebounding advantage (even a wide one) to take down Louisville.

This much I do know. If Kentucky can replicate its level of play that it had last round, it will win this one. If Louisville tosses up another stinker like it did in the last round, Kentucky's winning this one. Teams are never the same from game-to-game though, especially this year's Wildcats, so I can't say for sure who will win this one.

It should be a tremendous one, though. The defending champs won't go down easy, but Kentucky has proven already that it can defeat them. It's just a shame that the ending will be after most of the east coast has gone to bed.

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