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Jay Bilas ranks the Sweet 16, makes Houston vs. Kentucky prediction

Will the Cats advance past a feisty Houston team to make the Elite Eight?

Georgia v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats continue to get no media love heading into the Sweet 16.

Coming off of a close win against a dangerous Wofford Terriers team, the Wildcats are heading to Kansas City to battle the Houston Cougars for a spot in the Elite 8. According to Jay Bilas, that game is the end of the line for Kentucky.

Bilas has ranked the remaining 16 teams in the tournament, and while he gives Kentucky more respect than other outlets, he does not see them advancing without PJ Washington.

This one is simple. Kentucky is top-five if PJ Washington is healthy and playing. Kentucky is not among the top 10 without him. The win over Wofford was one of the best wins of the tournament because the Wildcats are not the powerful interior scoring and finishing team without Washington, one of the nation’s best players.

Kentucky’s defense was stellar against one of the best shooting teams in the country in Wofford, a top-10 offensive team. That defense will keep Kentucky competitive against anyone, but to score with anyone, Washington needs to be in the lineup.

Bilas ranked Kentucky as the No. 6 team remaining in the field, adding that they are top-five if Washington is healthy. But while he ranks Houston as No. 12 out of 16, he believes they will beat the Wildcats if PJ does not suit up.

The Cougars are tough as nails. Undersized at almost every position, Houston fights. The Cougars fight for rebounds, fight for position, fight for loose balls and fight for respect. Well, they have the latter, and they will continue to fight for the former three.

Will Houston beat Kentucky? With a healthy PJ Washington, probably not.

Without Washington, Houston will win. It is that simple. I love this Houston team.

It’s interesting that Bilas is so definitive on Houston being a PJ-less Kentucky. Sure, the Wildcats aren’t the same team, but acting like they have little chance to beat Houston seems unwise.

Jay Bilas’ Sweet 16 Rankings

  1. Duke Blue Devils
  2. North Carolina Tar Heels
  3. Virginia Cavaliers
  4. Gonzaga Bulldogs
  5. Michigan State Spartans
  6. Kentucky Wildcats
  7. Michigan Wolverines
  8. Tennessee Volunteers
  9. Florida State Seminoles
  10. LSU Tigers
  11. Texas Tech Red Raiders
  12. Houston Cougars
  13. Purdue Boilermakers
  14. Auburn Tigers
  15. Virginia Tech Hokies
  16. Oregon Ducks

Jay Bilas agrees with everyone else in that PJ Washington’s health will dictate the Wildcats’ success in Kansas City.

Do I think they can beat Houston without PJ?

Absolutely, but it is far from guaranteed and becomes a toss-up.

The cast should come off today. But will it stay off?