The Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen basketball tournament tips off Wednesday at Western Kentucky University's E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.
Here is a primer for what to expect:
Best first round game: Sacred Heart vs. Elizabethtown. The Valkyries came out of Louisville's powerful 7th Region and now have to open against the top-rated team in the field.
The favorites: Based on Dave Cantrall's ratings, E-town, Butler and Anderson County are a solid 1-2-3.
Players to watch: Five of the seven Miss Basketball finalists will be on display: Nicole Kiernan (Newport Central Catholic), Makenzie Cann and Eriel McKee (Anderson County), Kayla Rankin (Perry County Central), and Dai Jia Ruffin (Sacred Heart).
Been there, done that: Anderson County, Ashland Blazer, Corbin, Henderson County, Marshall County and Shelby Valley all are back after participating in last year's Sweet Sixteen
Sweet history 1: Ashland Blazer won state titles in 1921, '22, '24, '28 and '29, and placed second in 1931. This marks the Kittens' 12th trip in the modern era and third in a row.
Sweet history 2: Marshall County won state titles in 1982 and '84, and was runner-up in '81. The Marshals are in the tourney for the 22nd time and third in a row.
Quote from the favorite: "There's probably eight, 10 teams up there that have a legitimate chance, I think, to win it. Yeah, I would certainly put us in that boat; I'm not going to sit here and lie to you about that. But I also think there's a lot of teams up there that can beat us on any given day." — Elizabethtown Coach Tim Mudd
Family affair: Lafayette Coach Allison Denton is carrying her second child, due to be born May 6. The boy, to be named William Tate, has a 5-year-old sister, Anna Clay.
Team to watch you may not know about: Henderson County has four starters back from last year's Sweet Sixteen team, but no seniors. Backcourt play is a strength with Maci Brown, Kacie Wallace, Samantha Carter and Callie Francis.
Strong bloodline: Lafayette standout Dee Givens is a cousin to 1978 NCAA Tournament hero Jack "Goose" Givens.
Story line to keep an eye on: If rankings hold in the first round, look for a Titanic second-round clash when No. 1 Elizabethtown would meet No. 3 Anderson County.
Small schools that could make some noise: Three of the All "A" Classic's Final Four are in the field — champion Glasgow, runner-up Danville and semifinalist Newport Central Catholic.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.