We have half of the Elite Eight field set after last night’s Sweet 16 games. The Midwest region was full of blowouts as Notre Dame shot lights out and Kentucky was, well, Kentucky. On the other side of the bracket, the West had two close games and nearly two upsets.
For those who didn’t follow along with the live blog last night, here are some observations from Thursday’s games.
- Don’t poke the bear. You can say the pregame talk from Daxter Miles Jr., of West Virginia didn’t mean much in the game, but it was clear Kentucky wanted to make a statement. After Miles said Kentucky would go 36-1, the Wildcats held West Virginia to 39 points. There was a real effort to make this a blowout, and it was even said by the Kentucky players after the game. This is now the third time teams have put bulletin board material up for the Wildcats and all three times the games were blowouts.
- Andrew Harrison isn’t getting enough credit right now. Since the regular season has ended, Harrison has committed just four turnovers in six games. They actually all came in two games as well as he turned the ball over twice against West Virginia and twice against Auburn. On the flip side he has 15 assists making for an absurd assist to turnover ratio. He’s not the best point guard in the country, but right now he’s playing like many projected him to.
- Trey Lyles continues to be the ‘X-factor’ when it comes to Kentucky. He’s 6’10” but playing the small forward spot alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. He has the ability to hit from 15 feet out and can attack the rim off the dribble. He recorded a double-double against Cincinnati and has scored in double digits all three tournament games. If he continues to play well, this team is even tougher to beat.
- Xavier will be a favorite to win the Big East next year. Yes, they will lose starting point guard Dee Davis and big man Matt Stainbrook, but what Chris Mack has on his roster is phenomenal. Jalen Reynolds is a name to know as he’s an athletic big man who held his own against Arizona’s highly-touted front line last night. Watch out for the Musketeers in the Big East next year.
- It’s time to worry about Wisconsin. For yet another game the Badgers didn’t look good, especially Frank Kaminsky. Head coach Bo Ryan made some head-scratching decisions going with Traevon Jackson in clutch time over Bronson Koening. Have to wonder how this will change going forward.
- Sam Dekker is a better player and prospect than Frank Kaminsky. This isn’t a one game reaction, Dekker can just do more. Kaminsky is the bigger name right now because he’s seven feet tall, but the athleticism Dekker has combined with his shooting leaves him with a higher ceiling than Kaminsky. Dekker saved Wisconsin last night, putting up 23 points and 10 rebounds.
- Notre Dame is still a ton of fun to watch. Jerian Grant had five assists on the first six buckets for the Irish. The pace in the game against Wichita State made for an enjoyable game, and you have to think they’ll try to get as many shots up as possible against Kentucky.
- Saturday is going to be must-see TV. The Wisconsin vs Arizona rematch is happening while two teams in Notre Dame and Kentucky will square off with opposite styles of play. Make sure you’re in front of a TV tomorrow night.