West Virginia vs Kentucky
The only No. 1 seed vs. No. 2 seed in the Elite Eight is in the East, where the Kentucky Wildcats take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Judging by the scores of their games it looks like West Virginia has had a relatively easy ride through the tournament so far. In the first round they romped Morgan State 77-50, and they knocked off Missouri 68-59 as a 6-point favorite at Bovada in the second round.
The routs continued in the Sweet 16 as they sent Washington packing with a 69-56 win as 4.5-point favorites. That win didn’t come that easily, though. The Mountaineers actually trailed 29-27 at the half before grabbing a lead and running with it in the second half. Kevin Jones led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Da’Sean Butler added 14 points and seven boards.
They also got a huge scare after Butler fell hard on his hand midway through the second half. Thankfully he merely jammed the hand and continued to play through some pain. The injury shouldn’t give him any problems on Saturday.
West Virginia hasn’t been that lucky with all injures, though. Before their Sweet 16 matchup they lost starting guard Darryl Bryant for the rest of the tournament due to a broken foot he suffered in practice on Tuesday. The loss of Bryant leaves a hole in the Mountaineers’ starting five and also thins out their bench.
The Kentucky Wildcats have had an easy time though the tournament so far. Kentucky started the tournament with blowout wins over East Tennessee State and Wake Forest before facing giant-killer Cornell in the Sweet 16. The Big Red had already notched two big upsets, but they hit the wall against Kentucky.
It didn’t start that way, though. Cornell actually jumped out to a 10-2 lead before Kentucky woke up and went on a 12-0 run. They never relinquished the lead after that and rolled to a 62-45 win as 8-point favorites.
The Wildcats spread the offense around in the win with DeMarcus Cousins leading the team with 16 points and seven rebounds, and Eric Bledsoe netting 12 points. John Wall had a near triple-double with eight points, seven rebounds, and eight assists, and Patrick Patterson had nine points and 12 boards.
History is on the Mountaineers’ side on Saturday as they look for an upset over the Wildcats as a 4-point underdog. The last two times the teams have met up West Virginia has been favored, only to get pounded by the Wildcats. In 2008 Kentucky won 54-43 as an 8-point underdog, and in 2006 they won 80-66 as a 1-point underdog.
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