The Kentucky Wildcats can take one step closer to an undefeated season Thursday night when they take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Sweet 16. Kentucky, the No. 1 overall seed, is the first team in NCAA history to start a season 36-0, but to reach the Elite Eight it will need to overcome a West Virginia team that features a stifling defense.
Nicknamed "Press Virginia," the No. 5 seed Mountaineers overwhelmed No. 4 seed Maryland defensively. The Terrapins turned the ball over 23 times, and guard Dez Wells coughed it up eight times by himself.
Kentucky reached the Sweet 16 by beating Cincinnati in the Third Round. The Bearcats hung with the Wildcats for most of the game and even held a lead for a good part of the first half. But like West Virginia, Kentucky was able to establish itself defensively, forcing Cincinnati into a poor shooting game and 14 turnovers.
Kentucky and West Virginia will play at 9:45 p.m. ET in Cleveland, and the winner of that game will face either No. 7 Wichita State or No. 3 Notre Dame for a spot in the Final Four.
The Irish and Shockers will have the early game in Cleveland, and it could be the most exciting of the Thursday night slate. Despite being a No. 7 seed, Wichita State actually opened as a 1-point favorite after taking care of No. 2 Kansas in the Third Round. The Irish advanced by beating Butler in an overtime thriller.
The Sweet 16 continues out west as well, with No. 1 Wisconsin playing No. 4 North Carolina, then No. 2 Arizona playing No. 6 Xavier.
In the first game, it looks like North Carolina will be short-handed against the Badgers. Forward Kennedy Meeks was hurt in the Tar Heels' Third Round win over Arkansas and it does not look like he will be available. North Carolina will have to find a way to handle Badger star Frank Kaminsky without him. Kaminsky comes into the contest averaging 18.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game and was named Big Ten Player of the Year.
Sean Miller will face his former team in the second game when his Arizona Wildcats take on Xavier. Miller led the Musketeers to the Elite Eight in 2008, then brought the Wildcats there in 2011, but is seeking his first appearance in the Final Four.
Here's a complete look at the NCAA Tournament schedule for Thursday night. All times Eastern.
Teams: No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Wichita State
Time: 7:15 p.m., CBS
Teams: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 5 West Virginia
Time: approx. 9:45 p.m., CBS
Teams: No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 4 North Carolina
Time: 7:47 p.m., TBS
Teams: No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 6 Xavier
Time: approx. 10:17 p.m., TBS