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Sweet 16 preview: Breaking down the games

Matt Velazquez
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Midwest Regional

3 NOTRE DAME VS. 7 WICHITA STATE

Tip-off: 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland

TV: CBS

Records: Notre Dame 31-5, Wichita State 30-4

Fighting Irish outlook: Senior G Jerian Grant is a certain All-American and has been consistent, but a revolving door of outstanding performances by others has the Irish in the second weekend.

Shockers outlook: Senior PG Fred VanVleet has averaged 22 points during the Tournament, including tying his career high with 27 in the second round against Indiana.

1 KENTUCKY VS. 5 WEST VIRGINIA

Tip-off: 9:45 p.m. Thursday, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland

TV: CBS

Records: Kentucky 36-0, West Virginia 25-9

Wildcats outlook: Kentucky started slow against Hampton and Cincinnati, but defense carried it (53.5 points during the Tournament). The offense hasn't been at the same level. The Wildcats are shooting 28 percent on 3-pointers.

Mountaineers outlook: West Virginia has forced more turnovers than any team in the country. The Mountaineers have scored a combined 41 points off turnovers during the Tournament, accounting for 30 percent of their points.

East Regional

4 LOUISVILLE VS. 8 N.C. STATE

Tip-off: 7:37 p.m. Friday, Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

TV: TBS

Records: Louisville 26-8, N.C. State 22-13

Cardinals outlook: Defense has long been the calling card of Rick Pitino's teams, and Louisville has allowed 54 points during the Tournament. Sophomore G Terry Rozier has 37 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and six turnovers in 78 minutes.

Wolfpack outlook: N.C. State defeated Duke, North Carolina and Louisville in the regular season and sent No. 1 Villanova packing last weekend. PG Anthony Barber has averaged 15 points and 2.5 turnovers during the Tournament.

3 OKLAHOMA VS. 7 MICHIGAN STATE

Tip-off: 10:07 p.m. Friday, Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

TV: TBS

Records: Oklahoma 24-10, Michigan State 25-11

Sooners outlook: Big 12 player of the year Buddy Hield picked a good time for his eighth block — he erased a shot by Dayton's Darrell Davis to help seal the victory last weekend. He also has paced the Sooners with 15 points.

Spartans outlook: Senior G Travis Trice kicked off the victory over Virginia with 13 of Michigan State's first 15 points and finished with 23. In the victory over Georgia, he had 15 points.

South Regional

2 GONZAGA VS. 11 UCLA

Tip-off: 7:15 p.m. Friday, NRG Stadium, Houston

TV: CBS

Records: Gonzaga 34-2, UCLA 22-13

Bulldogs outlook: The Zags, one of the highest-scoring teams in the nation, put up 86 and 87 in their openers. F Kyle Wiltjer, a Kentucky transfer, averaged 23.5 points and is the star of Gonzaga's huge and imposing frontcourt.

Bruins outlook: UCLA is a team many pundits thought should have played in the First Four. Sophomore G Bryce Alford was 9-for-11 on 3-pointers for 27 points against SMU and added 22 points against Alabama-Birmingham.

1 DUKE VS. 5 UTAH

Tip-off: 9:45 p.m. Friday, NRG Stadium, Houston

TV: CBS

Records: Duke 31-4, Utah 26-8

Blue Devils outlook: Duke beat Robert Morris and San Diego State by an average of 24 points. Jahlil Okafor, a 6-foot-11 soon-to-be first team All-American, has scored 48 (21-for-27) his first two Tournament games.

Utes outlook: C Jakob Poeltl has scored 30 (12-for-13) over two Tournament games. He had eight rebounds and five blocks against Stephen F. Austin.

West Regional

1 WISCONSIN VS. 4 NORTH CAROLINA

Tip-off: 7:47 p.m. Thursday, Staples Center, Los Angeles

TV: TBS

Records: Wisconsin 33-3, North Carolina 26-11

Badgers outlook: Wisconsin is calculating and efficient. It took a total team effort to beat Joseph Young and pesky Oregon, with four players scoring in double figures led by 17 from Sam Dekker.

Tar Heels outlook: After North Carolina barely survived an upset bid by Harvard, PG Marcus Paige scored 20 of his 22 in the second half against Arkansas.

2 ARIZONA VS. 6 XAVIER

Tip-off: 10:17 p.m. Thursday, Staples Center, Los Angeles

TV: TBS

Records: Arizona 33-3, Xavier 23-13

Wildcats outlook: Arizona scored 93 against Texas Southern and held freshman D'Angelo Russell and Ohio State to 58 points. Senior G T.J. McConnell has 31 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Muskateers outlook: Xavier is the lone Big East team remaining. Xavier dispatched Mississippi thanks to 20 points from senior C Matt Stainbrook and ended Georgia State's run thanks to sophomore F Jalen Reynolds' 21 points off the bench.