A dominant program with eight NCAA championships faces a midmajor team that has never won the title. But Kentucky’s star player is questionable to play, opening the door for Houston to reach its first Elite Eight since 1984.
Matchup to watch: So they’re not Wofford’s Fletcher Magee and his 41.9 three-point percentage, but senior guard Corey Davis Jr. and junior guard Armoni Brooks shoot around 38 percent from beyond the arc for Houston as the team’s leading scorers. Kentucky held Magee to 0-for-12 shooting on threes in the second round and will look to apply that shutdown mentality again.
X-factor: PJ Washington. The sophomore forward leads Kentucky with 14.8 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game, but he missed the first two rounds with his left foot in a cast.
Three stars to watch
1. Reid Travis, Kentucky: The Minneapolis native and DeLaSalle star has stepped up in Washington’s absence.
2. Cougars D, Houston: This squad led the nation in shooting defense, limiting opponents to 36.7 percent from the field.
3. John Calipari, Kentucky: The Hall of Famer has been the most successful coach in the NCAA tournament the past 10 seasons.
If Washington plays, Kentucky will win. But if he doesn’t, the Cougars have the underdog — undercat? — motivation to keep advancing.