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Wichita State, Kentucky lead final charge to NCAA tournament Sweet 16

Wildcats get to play underdog against Shockers
Wildcats get to play underdog against Shockers
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The NCAA tournament will just have 16 teams left after March 23. As it turns out, there's a real chance that a No. 1 seed, which hasn't lost a game all season, won't be among them. In any other NCAA tournament, that possibility would make for an historic, massive upset -- but when the unbeaten team is the Wichita State Shockers and their eighth seeded opponent is the Kentucky Wildcats, it is almost expected.

The most debated topic of the NCAA tournament bracket was the Midwest region, which gave the unbeaten Shockers the toughest route through March Madness. With the preseason No. 1 Wildcats serving as the Shockers' second opponent -- and their former Final Four rival Louisville Cardinals now looming next -- it seemed Wichita State was being punished for its soft schedule.

Technically, the Shockers are getting a soft Wildcats team now, since they have underachieved all season long. However, Kentucky is seemingly peaking at the right time, after nearly upsetting the Florida Gators for the SEC championship and holding the Kansas State Wildcats to 49 points in the NCAA second round. Even as an underachieving eight seed, Kentucky is still Wichita State's toughest opponent all year.

There may be no more revealing game in the NCAA tournament than this one, in regards to an unbeaten Shockers team and a Wildcats club that some thought could be perfect in the preseason. Either way, with Louisville awaiting the winner, this game will set up the most anticipated match up of the Sweet 16 in some fashion.

However, there are seven more Sweet 16 pairings to set in stone on March 23. Despite how a Wildcats win over the Shockers may not be seen as an upset, there are still upset opportunities abound. The Mercer Bears and Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks will each try to pull a second shocker this March, while the Virginia Cavaliers and Arizona Cardinals look to recover from tough games against No. 16 seeds.

The accompanying list details the full schedule on the last day of the NCAA tournament's first week, and their projected starting times.

Wiggins, Jayhawks to look better?
Wiggins, Jayhawks to look better? Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Wiggins, Jayhawks to look better?

Stanford vs Kansas, 12:15 p.m. est: Andrew Wiggins and the Jayhawks survived an upset bid against Eastern Kentucky, so facing 10'th seeded Stanford -- with 11'th seeded Dayton looming -- isn't a sure thing.

Shockers get their big test
Shockers get their big test Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Shockers get their big test

Kentucky vs Wichita State, 2:45 p.m. est: Fred VanVleet and the 35-0 Shockers can finally shut up their critics by beating a powerful opponent, especially since the Wildcats are getting powerful again.

Cyclones still formidable?
Cyclones still formidable? Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Cyclones still formidable?

North Carolina vs Iowa State, 5:15 p.m. est: DeAndre Kane and the rest of the Cyclones now have to answer doubters with George Niang out for the NCAA tournament.

Mercer to keep going?
Mercer to keep going? Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Mercer to keep going?

Mercer vs Tennessee, 6:10 p.m. est: After upsetting third-seeded Duke, Mercer only has to beat 11'th seeded Tennessee to make the Sweet 16.

Stephen F. Austin to keep winning?
Stephen F. Austin to keep winning? Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Stephen F. Austin to keep winning?

Stephen F. Austin vs UCLA, 7:10 p.m. est: Coach Danny Kaspar and the Lumberjacks won their 29'th straight game with a stunning rally over VCU, and now a 30'th straight win will get them in the Sweet 16.

McDermott shoots for Sweet 16
McDermott shoots for Sweet 16 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

McDermott shoots for Sweet 16

Baylor vs Creighton, 7:40 p.m. est: Doug McDermott has done virtually everything at Creighton, except win more than one NCAA tournament game a season.

Cavaliers look to get stronger
Cavaliers look to get stronger Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Cavaliers look to get stronger

Memphis vs Virginia, 8:40 p.m. est: The top seeded Cavaliers got scared by No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina, but will need more to avoid another scare from No. 8 seed Memphis.

Johnson, Wildcats face Gonzaga
Johnson, Wildcats face Gonzaga Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Johnson, Wildcats face Gonzaga

Gonzaga vs Arizona, 9:40 p.m. est: Nick Johnson and the Wildcats face fellow Western power Gonzaga in first NCAA tournament meeting since 2003 thriller.