With the original 64 teams whittled down to a mere 16, the 2012 March Madness is starting to heat up. Each team knows it's sweet to still be around, but that doesn't mean they aren't striving for more. This week will see those 16 dwindle to a mere 8 teams. Who will survive and how will your bracket fair? Check out The Christian Post's previews for everything you need to know before this Thursday and Friday's Sweet 16 match-ups.
In the South:
Kentucky (1) v Indiana(4)
Game Time: 9:45 p.m., Friday (March 23)
Where the Action Is: Back in December, these two teams met in a contentious battle. Ultimately, Indiana won thanks to a buzzer beating 3-pointer by Christian Watford. They dealt Kentucky their only regular season loss, and there's no doubt the sting of that loss will be fueling them this coming Friday.
Kentucky's defense will most likely give Indiana some trouble. In last round's game against VCU, Indiana gave up a huge 22 turnovers. Indiana cannot afford to give away that many processions if they expect to beat Kentucky.
Players to Watch: Kentucky Wildcat point guard Marquis Teague should give the Indiana Hoosiers a tough time. Especially considering that Indiana's starting point guard is out of commission with a torn ACL. Teague is having a great tournament, in the Kentucky's win over Iowa State, Teague scored 24 points and gave up only two turnovers. If Indiana wants to make it to the Elite Eight they're going to have to find a way to stop Teague.
But that's not to say the Hoosiers don't have weapons of their own. Christian Watford averaged a solid 12.2 points during the regular season and he's looking even hotter in the tournament. He scored 16 points in the Hoosier's win over VCU.
Christian Post Pick: Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats are out for revenge, and there is little evidence that they can be stopped. Kentucky is seeded higher, and their stars are putting up bigger numbers while giving up fewer turnovers.
Baylor (3) v Xavier (10)
Game Time: 7:15 p.m., Friday (March 23)
Where the Action Is: The Baylor Bears have been extremely hot behind the three-point line as of late. In last round's win over the Colorado Buffalo's Baylor hit nine three-pointers.
But that's not to say the action won't be intense under the basket. Both Baylor and Xavier have star big men, and both are known as rebounding teams. The Xavier Musketeers average a huge 36.1 rebounds per game. But Baylor is especially known for sticking around to grab up their offensive rebounds. During the regular season, they collected 38 percent of offensive rebounds. It will be interesting to see if Xavier's rebounding prowess can keep Baylor from pulling down those offensive boards.
Players to Watch: Baylor's Perry Jones III is having a rough tournament. Usually he's the team's high scorer. He averaged 13.6 points per game during the regular season, but during March Madness the big man has put up an average of only 4.5 points per game. Many are wondering if the he will be able to slip out of his funk and lead Baylor to the Elite Eight.
Picking up the slack for Baylor is the hot hand of Brady Heslip. He had 27 points in the Bears' win over Colorado, sinking and impressive nine 3-point baskets
On the Xavier side, Senior center Kenny Frease will keep things exciting as he goes up against the struggling Perry Jones III. Unlike his opponent, Frease is having a great tournament. He scored a career-high 25 points in the last round's win over Lehigh.
Christian Post Pick: Baylor Bears. With a whopping seven-seed difference, it's hard to predict an upset and foresee Xavier beating Baylor. Even with their star player, Perry Jones III in a slump, the Bears have been winning games and putting up impressive numbers.
Check back in all week for previews for all eight Sweet 16 games.