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Sweet 16 viewing guide and open thread: Firepower aplenty on display tonight

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The SEC’s standard bearers get their shot tonight

Mississippi v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Half of the Sweet 16 gets pared down tonight, or, as you may better know this weekend, “back to reality for plucky underdogs who got hot for two games.”

Among the action tonight are the improbable Texas A&M Aggies, a team that couldn’t score in the Bunny Ranch. But, they have a pair of seven-footers, plenty of fouls to give, and just enough offense from the backcourt to make life exceedingly difficult for pretty basketball teams (C YA, UNC).

The other SEC team in action is the red hot Kentucky Wildcats. Since a Valentine’s Day loss to Auburn, BBN has gone 9-1. Of those nine victories, only two have been in the single digits, and Cal’s team is winning by an average of 14 points a game. RIP, K-State.

Bookending what may could be two relative defensive slugfests are some lights-out offensive teams showcasing a ton of firepower. In terms of offense you get No. 35 Loyola-Chicaga vs. No. 8 Nevada, No. 7 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Florida, No. 17 UK vs. No. 39 Kansas State, No. 10 Michigan vs. No. 25 Texas A&M.

On the other side of the bracket, you have No. 2 Duke, No. 14 Clemson, No. 6 Kansas, No. 11 West Virginia, No. 4 Purdue, No. 13 Texas Tech, and No. 1 Villanova — well, you know them. The absolute worst offense remaining, Syracuse, still checks in at No. 46 out of 347 teams. (For contrast, Alabama finished the year at 54th.)

Are you sensing a trend here? Offense wins championships in modern basketball.

At any rate, here’s the schedule tonight:

(11) Loyola Chicago vs. (7) Nevada 7:07 p.m. CBS

(7) Texas A&M vs. (3) Michigan 7:27 p.m. TBS

(9) Kansas State vs. (5) Kentucky 9:37 p.m. CBS

(9) Florida State vs. (4) Gonzaga 9:59 p.m. TBS