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NCAA TOURNAMENT: THURSDAY SWEET 16 GAMES OPEN THREAD

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We're talkin' Sweet 16 hoops.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After a brief siesta, the NCAA Tournament is rejuvenated and ready for the Sweet 16.  Tonight's games feature the left side of the bracket -- and a few intriguing games.  Wichita State-Notre Dame has the narrowest Vegas odds of any Sweet 16 game today or tomorrow, as well as the closest KenPom odds -- Notre Dame is just a 52% favorite to advance.  On paper, that game is as close as a pick 'em as it gets.

The other three games tonight aren't expected to be that close -- Kentucky and Arizona are both double-digit favorites (and better than 80% favorites to advance, per KenPom) -- but there's still some intrigue.  Kentucky's quest for an undefeated season is the subplot of the NCAA Tournament but to stay alive they'll have to solve Xavier's swarming, exhaustive press on defense.  Arizona faces a Xavier team on a roll, as well as a coach who's very familiar with Arizona coach Sean Miller -- Chris Mark was an assistant under Miller at Xavier for several years.

The other game of the night pits the only Big Ten team in action tonight against the Tar Heels, which features a fascinating styles clash.  The obvious comparison for this game is the tortoise versus the hare; UNC plays at the fastest pace of any team still alive in the NCAA Tournament (69.8 possessions per game, 12th best in the nation), while Wisconsin plays at the slowest pace of any team left in the NCAA Tournament (59.0 possessions per game, 346th "best" in the nation).  Wisconsin has played in a game with 65 or more possessions just six times this year -- and four of those came in non-conference laughers.  That said, UNC is going to need to execute their offense at an extremely high level in this game, no matter what pace it's played at.

TEAM VS TEAM SPREAD CHANNEL TIME
#3 Notre Dame VS #7 Wichita State WICH -1.5 CBS 6:15 PM
#1 Wisconsin VS #4 North Carolina WIS -6.5 TBS 6:47 PM
#1 Kentucky VS #5 West Virginia UK -13.5 CBS 8:45 PM
#2 Arizona VS #6 Xavier ARIZ -11 TBS 9:17 PM


If you're not near a TV, you can stream the games through March Madness Live.

The usual rules apply.