Ranking the Sweet 16 games: Cornell-Kentucky is most anticipated

The Dagger ranks the eight Sweet 16 games based on a myriad of subjective factors including anticipation, upset potential, watchability and, of course, basketball.

8. No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Purdue (Friday, 9:57 p.m. EDT)

Though Purdue is the second-biggest underdog on the board, don't count out the Boilermakers. Nobody expected the Robbie Hummel-less team to make it this far in the first place.

7. No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 10 St. Mary's (Friday, 7:27 p.m. ET)

With LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter and Omar Samhan on the court, this should be a fun one. But it's tough not to view this game as a battle to get sacrificed to the Duke Final Four gods on Sunday.

6. No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 5 Butler (Thursday, 7:07 p.m. ET)

Butler isn't an underdog because it's a so-called "mid-major." The Bulldogs sport an impressive 8-5 record in NCAA tournament games since 2000 and are a perenniel top 25 team. No, they're an underdog because Syracuse is really, really good.

5. No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 11 Washington (Thursday, 7:27 p.m. EDT)

Don't be fooled by the seedings, Washington isn't playing much like a No. 11 seed of late. With the injury to WVU guard Truck Bryant this could be an upset that's really not all that much of one.

4. No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Tennessee (Friday, 7:07 p.m. EDT)

Though he's a contender for national player of the year honors, Evan Turner still hasn't captured the attention of the general public like John Wall. With a few more wins for the Buckeyes, that will quickly change.

3. No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 9 Northern Iowa (Friday, 9:37 p.m. EDT)

Together, they've played three of the most memorable games in a classic first weekend. But the loss of Kalin Lucas and the historical tendency for Cinderella teams to underperform in the follow-up to a major upset is enough to lower our expectations for this one ... but just by a bit. This should be another thriller.

2. No. 2 Kansas State vs. No. 6 Xavier (Thursday, 9:37 p.m. EDT)

It wont get the hype, particularly since its being played at the same time as our No. 1 game, but KSU-Xavier is the most evenly matched contest in the Sweet 16. Jordan Crawford vs. Jacob Pullen is the marquee matchup of the round.

1. No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Cornell (Thursday, 9:57 p.m. EDT)

None of the other games on the board have as much potential to turn into a rout as this one. On the other hand, none of those games have the potential to become one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history.

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