You know the Sweet Sixteen whys, whens and wheres, so let's get right to some select previews and excerpts from them that I deemed especially important.
Chance Linton's preview at 247Sports includes a key to victory for the 'Cats that I opine to be paramount among all others.
"Defend the 3-point line. The Wildcats rank 12th-nationally in limiting opponents to just 30.5 percent from beyond the arc, but the Bruins are the nation's third-best 3-point shooting team at 40.6 percent. In the first meeting back in December, the Bruins hit 10 threes at 43.5-percent clip."
CBS Sports' Matt Norlander identifies the contest as "one of the most anticipated Sweet 16 matchups ever" in his exhaustive preview.
"The teams we see Friday are different from the teams we saw Dec. 3. Kentucky's defense is noticeably better. UCLA's defense is, too! The biggest difference in this game will be the contributions from Kentucky's seniors. If you've noticed over the course of this winning streak, Derek Wills, Mychal Mulder and Dominique Hawkins have been getting much more playing time. In the first game, Mulder wasn't on the floor. Willis played 22 minutes and had 11 points. Hawkins scored five points in 16 minutes. They'll almost certainly be used more liberally. Kentucky is deeper than UCLA, and having more bodies in an 80-possession game could be a necessary asset to thwarting defeat."
In case you missed it, our own James Streble posits that Derek Willis is the key to a victory tonight.
"Willis is playing the best basketball of his career and his minutes have gone up from the time when his team faced UCLA in December. It is now to the point where it hurts the ‘Cats when Willis is on the bench because of his defense and his rebounding. John Calipari's confidence in Willis has skyrocketed to the point where he didn't leave the floor in the second half vs. Wichita State in the round of 32."
Also, make sure to check out the current standings in ASoB's Bracket Challenge.