The Sweet 16 of the 2014 NCAA Tournament is set to begin on Thursday, with three No.1 seeds still in contention for a national championship. The most highly anticipated matchup, though, may feature two of the lower seeds that remain in the field.
No.8 Kentucky will take on No.4 Louisville on Friday. Not only do the teams account for the last two national titles, but they also make up one of college basketball’s biggest rivalries.
The winner will go on to the finals in the Midwest region for a shot at the Final Four.
NCAA Tournament History
This is very familiar territory for head coach Rick Pitino’s group. After failing to make the Big Dance in his first year with the school, the Hall of Famer has led Louisville to 10 of 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. This marks the sixth time that the team has reached the Sweet Sixteen, under Pitino, and they’ve never failed to advance to the Elite Eight.
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Last season was a down year for Kentucky, being named to the NIT, following a national title season. Before 2012-2013, though, head coach John Calipari knew nothing but success with the Wildcats. In his first three seasons, the team was never eliminated before the Elite Eight. The school hasn’t lost in the Sweet Sixteen since 2002.
Two days before the Midwest regional is set to take place, the NCAA has announced that no more general tickets are available for the event. A small number of NCAA-sanctioned tickets and hospitality packages will be sold at NCAA.com/VIP. Over 40,000 fans are expected to be in attendance.
No.11 Tennessee will take on No.2 Michigan in the semifinals, but the Kentucky-Louisville matchup has made a ticket to the session a very expensive one. According to CBS Chicago, prices for the 2014 Sweet Sixteen Midwest regional are up by 4.7 percent from a year ago, on the secondary ticket market. At seatgeek.com, the cheapest seat would cost a fan $96, before fees. Courtside seats on stubhub.com are being offered for as much as $1,450.
The in-state rivals will play in the second game of the Midwest regional. Tennessee and Michigan will get things started at 7:15 p.m. ET at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Kentucky and Louisville are scheduled to tip off at 9:45 p.m. ET, though that will likely be extended.
The Cardinals last played on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats advanced to the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday.