We can debate what degree of volition and predetermination went into the NCAA tournament selection committee setting up a bracket that yielded Wichita State vs. Kentucky in the second round. Sure, it's unfair for the Wildcats to have to face a No. 10 seed (cackle) like the Shockers. Absolutely, it's unfair to Gregg Marshall's team that it's seeded so low. (Most definitely, it was unfair to Dayton. You get the idea.) Let us resolve to do better in the future, NCAA.
But it happened, and, sweet mother of VanVleet and the Harrison twins, this is one incredible round of 32 matchup. In 2014, Kentucky, as a No. 8 seed, beat top-seeded Wichita State -- ending the Shockers' bid for a perfect season -- in a game for the ages.
The rematch between the Shockers and the Wildcats headlines Sunday's second-round action. Here are all eight games ranked according to their "Gasaway Factor," a highly proprietary secret formula that determines just how enthusiastic you should be about a given game.
1. No. 10 Wichita State vs. No. 2 Kentucky (2:40 p.m. ET)
Three years ago the roles were reversed -- kind of. Wichita State was the high seed and Kentucky was a No. 8 that had played its way down to that line by finishing six games behind Florida in the SEC. It was a second-round matchup between two of the best teams in the country, with the Wildcats winning 78-76 and going on to play in the national championship game.
Is it too much to hope for a repeat? Not at all. These two teams are a combined 24-1 since the start of February.
Somehow, Marshall is not being included in national coach of the year discussions despite the fact that, one year after the departures of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, his team is widely seen as a worthy foe for Kentucky.
As for the Wildcats, they won an outright SEC regular-season title and then cruised through the conference tournament. That's a two-fer John Calipari has recorded just twice previously at Kentucky, most recently in 2014-15 when his team reached the Final Four with a record of 38-0 before falling to Wisconsin.
UK is coming off a first-round win over Northern Kentucky in which it shot 3-of-17 from beyond the arc, an anomaly that did not matter because De'Aaron Fox and Isaiah Briscoe were a combined 15-of-25 on their 2s against the feisty but undersized Norse. All well and good, but that alone is unlikely to get it done against the excellent interior defense of the Shockers. With some timely offensive boards, particularly from Bam Adebayo, and a few putbacks, and by limiting giveaways against a Wichita State defense that does not force many turnovers, the Wildcats could get a healthy number of chances to score.
Few defenses are as reliant on defensive rebounding as Kentucky's. The Wildcats have been quietly unbelievable on the glass at that end of the floor, but the flip side is that in SEC play, their opponents' field goal percentage was equivalent to the league average. That could matter against a Shockers offense that features the highly accurate likes of Landry Shamet, Conner Frankamp and Shaquille Morris. Don't be surprised to see a high-scoring game, just like the 2014 version.
2. No. 9 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Kansas (5:15 p.m. ET)
Is Tom Izzo really being March-variety Tom Izzo again? If so, is Kermit Davis the only known kryptonite? Here is what we know: Michigan State is a solid defensive team that excels at making shots, but turns the ball over frequently and seldom gets offensive boards. Or so we thought before the Spartans' blowout win over Miami.
Nick Ward and Miles Bridges are coming off huge games against the Hurricanes, and it's been well documented that this Kansas team isn't up to Bill Self's usual standards on defense. Then again, the Jayhawks are a multiheaded 3-point-making hydra, with Frank Mason III, Josh Jackson, Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk all perfectly capable of hitting shots from beyond the arc. What happens when two storied programs led by two legendary coaches collide? Most likely a high number of points.
3. No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Duke (8:40 p.m. ET)
It is said that this is a "home" game for South Carolina -- it's being played in Greenville, South Carolina -- but the Palmetto State has never been known as a particularly fearsome destination for opposing teams. At any rate, Duke is pretty good and this is a Gamecocks team that has dropped six of its past 10 games. Don't bemoan the injustice being done to the Blue Devils just yet.
The one wild card here is Sindarius Thornwell, who had one of the better individual performances of the tournament so far in the first round (29 points on 10-of-19 shooting). Yes, that was against a highly questionable Marquette defense, but we are speaking of the SEC Player of the Year. The Gamecocks senior will want to reprise that outing, because with Luke Kennard, Jayson Tatum, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson, Duke has an absurd number of potential sources for huge Thornwell-level games.
4. No. 7 Michigan vs. No. 2 Louisville (12:10 p.m. ET)
On paper this should be a strength-on-strength collision. The elite Louisville defense against the now white-hot Michigan offense, which Rick Pitino has likened to that of the Golden State Warriors.
I'm not so sure. The Wolverines' offense is everything Pitino says, no doubt, but the Cardinals have shown they too can win a shootout. Three weeks ago Louisville prevailed at home 94-90 against Virginia Tech, which late in the season was putting the ball in the basket with Michigan-level frequency. That game may provide the best precedent for this matchup between the Wolverines and the Cardinals. One thing we know: John Beilein's team has scored at least 1.15 points per trip in four of its past five games.
5. No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 3 UCLA (9:40 p.m. ET)
UCLA is rather famously the best-shooting team in the country, and Cincinnati less famously -- but no less impressively -- forces opponents to miss a high number of shots. That right there holds the promise of an epic showdown, the kind March is supposed to bring us in ample supply.
On the other hand, that particular epic showdown will be just 50 percent of this game. The other half of the story will be Cincinnati's Kyle Washington, Jacob Evans and Troy Caupain taking on a Bruins defense that has had to endure so much skepticism for so long. That could well be where this game is decided. Sure, Lonzo Ball will dazzle us in his smooth and hyperefficient way. Still, there's a fair chance Mick Cronin's team can keep pace surprisingly well, if for no other reason than the fact that Steve Alford's defense (very) rarely forces turnovers.
6. No. 11 Rhode Island vs. No. 3 Oregon (7:10 p.m. ET)
Congratulations, Rhode Island. Your reward for catching fire late in the season, making the NCAA tournament and casting Creighton aside is 30-5 Oregon. Chris Boucher was lost for the season to a torn ACL, but Dana Altman still has Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Jordan Bell. That should be enough to land a regular-season Pac-12 co-champion in the Sweet 16, right?
Well, maybe. Just remember Dan Hurley knows how to coach defense, and it's possible the Rams could slow down the hitherto excellent Ducks offense. If that occurs, watch URI on the offensive glass. Oregon could be vulnerable there, and maybe Hassan Martin can do enough of the dirty work in the paint to keep this one close.
7. No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 1 North Carolina (6:10 p.m. ET)
Arkansas has been rather underappreciated for a team that came within a few baskets of wresting the "best offense in SEC play" bragging rights away from Kentucky. Dusty Hannahs and Daryl Macon can really hit their 3s, and as a team the Razorbacks are outstanding when it comes to taking care of the ball.
You sense there is a "but" coming. You are correct. Mike Anderson's team is woefully bad on the defensive glass, and North Carolina has been known to gather in an occasional offensive board.
8. No. 11 USC vs. No. 3 Baylor (7:45 p.m. ET)
There aren't many Cinderellas still lurking about, but USC is at least a statistical underdog. This season the Trojans ranked No. 6 in Pac-12 play for offense and No. 7 for defense -- in a league, keep in mind, that the metrics weren't exactly wowed by to start with.
Well, ask SMU all about that. Andy Enfield's team is still standing, and if his guys have a shot against Baylor it will be because Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright are getting to the line. That will matter, because the spectacle of this weak defensive-rebounding team trying to contend with the likes of Johnathan Motley and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. is not a promising one for USC.