Fans, players and coaches are in the midst of a short break from the NCAA tournament, as the end of the round of 32 signaled the beginning of a hiatus that allows teams to prepare for the high-pressure Sweet 16 set to begin on Thursday.
The remaining 16 squads are capable of beating almost any team in the country. Some have avoided the upsets while others have done the upsetting, but the uniting factor is that all 16 teams have their eyes on the NCAA title.
Excitement has been a theme throughout the early stages of the tournament, and the fact that the best has yet to come means that there's legendary basketball on the horizon. But who will continue their hot play and advance not just to the Elite Eight, but to the Final Four?
Below are some predictions, including title odds for the remainder of the field.
Current Title Odds
|NCAA Title Odds, Sweet 16 Teams|
Note: Odds are via OddsShark.com as of Wednesday, March 25 at 12 a.m. ET.
Final Four Picks
|Final Four Predictions|
|Midwest||No. 1 Kentucky|
|West||No. 2 Arizona|
|East||No. 4 Louisville|
|South||No. 2 Gonzaga|
Despite fierce competition, the Kentucky Wildcats are still the overwhelming favorites to complete a perfect season and hoist the NCAA title.
A record of 36-0 is something most schools would celebrate, but it's just another notch on this team's belt. The Wildcats have dominated nearly every opponent on the schedule this season. But there appears to be a correlation between the teams that just barely lose and the teams that get blown out in regards to how well they perform in the paint:
The next team up is West Virginia. The Mountaineers have big men capable of playing in the paint at a high level. While the team's athleticism is not up to par with Kentucky, a presence in the paint is something that might give the Wildcats fits.
ESPN's John Buccigross tweets that the Mountaineers have done well this season on the offensive glass, which is a key to succeeding in the paint:
Forwards Jonathan Holton and Devin Williams are crucial to the Mountaineers' success. At 6'7" and 6'9", respectively, these two need to work hard to produce against bigs like Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns, who stand 7' and 6'11", respectively.
Cauley-Stein and Towns have proven nearly unstoppable themselves. The duo has put together impressive three-game totals during the tourney, which you can see below:
|Cauley-Stein, Towns Per-Game Totals in NCAA Tournament|
Not-so-ironically, Towns and Cauley-Stein also top the list of NBA draft prospects on the team. SNY's Adam Zagoria tweets where each of the Wildcats' top prospects are projected to go in Round 1:
It's this depth that makes Kentucky so incredibly difficult to even hang with. Realistically, all four of the prospects Zagoria mentions could go in the lottery. There isn't another school in the country that can say the same.
But one of the prospects hasn't played well in the tournament. Devin Booker, a freshman guard, finished the regular season with a 46.1 shooting percentage (40.6 percent from three) and 10.1 points in 21.5 minutes per game. He was often the best shooter on the floor for Kentucky and was supposed to be the guy to hit big shots in the tournament.
Booker hasn't had opportunities to make big shots because of how the games have played out, but the way he's shooting right now might even force head coach John Calipari to look elsewhere for a high-pressure jumper.
He's only 5-of-19 from the floor, including 1-of-10 from deep. That has resulted in just 11 points.
If there's one thing I know about Book, there's nothing that's going to take his confidence. The dude's confidence is so high that him missing shots is not doing anything to him. He knows that as a shooter you've gotta have a short memory. He definitely does.
Eventually, they're going to start falling. He knows that. We know that.
There's no better time to get going than against West Virginia, as the Mountaineers figure to give Kentucky its toughest game to date. The Wildcats need everyone firing on all cylinders.
Despite rebounding and shooting flaws, Kentucky is an absolute juggernaut that has proven impossible to stop. There should be no qualms surrounding the Wildcats as we head into the final games of the 2015 college basketball season.
If there's any team that can complete a perfect 40-0 season, it's Calipari's bunch.
Kenny DeJohn is a Breaking News Team Featured Columnist. Follow him on Twitter.