The NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 gets underway Thursday with a South Region semifinal in Louisville, Kentucky, between Villanova and Miami. The winner will face either Kansas or Maryland on Saturday for a spot in the Final Four.
The Wildcats are the South's No. 2 seed, while the Hurricanes are No. 3. But don't count the Canes anywhere near out. They're about a four-point underdog, and they've beaten some of the country's strongest teams already this season — Virginia and Louisville back-to-back in February, then Wichita State in the second round of this tournament.
The matchups are fascinating. Both teams have elite offenses and stout defenses to go with them, and each would give Kansas a lot to handle in a hypothetical Elite Eight meeting. A group of veteran guards leads Miami, with seniors Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez averaging a combined 29 points and six assists per game. Villanova also benefits from a seasoned rotation, which includes junior guard Josh Hart (15 points per game) and forward Kris Jenkins (13). This is the last tournament ride for senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono, a four-year starter.
Both programs have historically struggled to get deep into March Madness. Miami has not reached the Elite Eight at any point during its basketball history, and Villanova has mixed in one Final Four berth with nine losses between the first round and Elite Eight — all since 2005.
Each has navigated the first two rounds without any great trouble. Miami beat Buffalo and Wichita State by eight- and seven-point margins, not blowing either out but ultimately winning comfortably both times. Villanova has cruised past UNC-Asheville and Iowa, winning by 49 points combined in two games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Kansas and Maryland will take to the Louisville floor shortly after the Wildcats and Hurricanes leave it, setting the stage for an even bigger game two days later.
Who: No. 2 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 3 Miami Hurricanes
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky.
When: 7:10 p.m. ET
TV information: CBS
Online: NCAA March Madness Live
Radio: Westwood One