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NCAA Tournament 2015: Sweet Sixteen Predictions For Thursday

Somewhere, Danny Ray is getting the James Brown cape ready for Kennedy Meeks' performance tonight.
Somewhere, Danny Ray is getting the James Brown cape ready for Kennedy Meeks' performance tonight.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Sweet Sixteen starts Thursday night with four games: Wichita/Notre Dame (7:15), UNC/Wisconsin (7:47), West Virginia/Kentucky (9:45) and Xavier/Arizona (10:17).

That's a pretty nice Thursday evening of hoops.

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As expected and in the old tradition, UNC says the injured Kennedy Meeks is questionable. So that means he'll most likely be ready to rip off the cape and have a big game.

Still, UNC will have a tough time hurrying up Wisconsin and that team really doesn't foul or turn the ball over to speak of. UNC is erratic and mistake-prone. The difference now is that Marcus Paige is healthy and can potentially have a dramatic effect at the end of a game.

Is that enough? We think Wisconsin is just better.

Wichita-Notre Dame is a really intriguing matchup because of the backcourts, but also because of the white-hot intensity Wichita plays with. We'll take the Shockers here.

Xavier-Arizona seems obvious, right? It's a nice chance for Sean Miller to meet with old friends from his time in Cincinnati - and then to ruin their evening.

Now on to West Virginia and Kentucky.

It's become trendy to pick West Virginia here and there's an argument. The Mountaineers press relentlessly, with eight upperclassmen they are experienced, and with five guys over 6-9 and 235, they have the size if not the talent to beat Kentucky, and we don't mean on the scoreboard. We joked on Twitter the other day that West Virginia is the Cobra Kai of college basketball. It was a joke but there is truth to it: for years Huggins has had physical teams which just beat the holy crap out of opponents. Remember 1999 and playing Cincinnati in Alaska? With Duke's most physical player ever, Elton Brand?

One of two losses.

Plus Bob Huggins has dominated John Calipari over the years.

So what happens? Well, in a WVU scenario, Huggy Bear's guards disrupt Kentucky's mostly slower guards.

Then his beefy inside players just pound the hell out of Calipari's talented frontcourt and either intimidate or anger them to the point where their effectiveness is diminished.

If West Virginia can keep it close until the final minutes, Kentucky will have game pressure like it's not had all year. And then it's anyone's game.

On the other hand though Huggins reliably recruits a few idiots, and this time around Daxter Miles is woofing.

"I give them their props.Salute them to getting to 36-0. But tomorrow they're gonna be 36-1."

He also  said Kentucky "[doesn't] play hard" and that "[t]hey should be more intimidated. Because they're the ones who have the high standard, and we're coming for them."

He's a freshman, so maybe he gets a pass. But senior Juwan Staten should know better. When asked if West Virginia's pressure would work, he said "[w]hy wouldn't it? We've been playing this way all year, we've had success against everybody no matter what style or what type of players they have. That's the only way we play and it's just up to us to make it work."

What a pair of maroons. Next time they're goofing off in study hall, someone should make them read The Art Of War, where they'd find great advice like this:

"Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate."

In other words: shut your traps, lay your plans, and, like Coach K did with UNLV in 1991, feed into their arrogance.

Coach K told his team to ignore every public comment about Vegas and then went out and essentially said he didn't know why Duke was bothering because UNLV was probably unbeatable. Truly great, might beat us worse than in 1990.

Meanwhile, while Stacey Augmon imagined an easy game in which Duke gave up in five or ten minutes, Duke was plotting UNLV's demise. And when Bobby Hurley had his famous three, he could say later that he had waited for that shot for a long time.

It's too late for that, so smashmouth is the Mountaineer's only hope. It is possible, but can it work? After such woofing? We're skeptical.