By Greg Mengelt, CollegeHoops.Net
(1) Kentucky vs. (4) Indiana: South Region
Kentucky 34-2, 16-0 SEC (Regular-season Conference Champions; At large)
Indiana 27-8, 11-7 Big Ten (At large)
Time: 9:45 p.m. Friday
Location: Georgia Dome in Atlanta
Winner will face: (3) Baylor or (10) Xavier, Sunday
Kentucky def. Western Kentucky, 81-66; def. Iowa State 87-71
Indiana def. New Mexico State 79-66; def. VCU 63-61
Kentucky No. 1 AP; No. 1 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Indiana No. 16 AP; No. 17 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Line: Kentucky -9 (O/U 146½)
Players to Watch
Kentucky: F Anthony Davis, 6-10 Fr. (14.3 ppg, 10.1 ppg, 4.6 bpg); F Terrence Jones, 6-9 So. (12.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 bpg); G Marquise Teague, 6-2 Fr. (9.9 ppg, 4.8 apg, 2 spg). Teague’s continued improvement has made the Wildcats the unquestioned NCAA Tournament favorites. In Saturday’s win over Iowa State, the freshman PG had perhaps his best performance at UK with 24 points (on 10-of-14 shooting), seven assists, four rebounds and a steal.
Indiana: C Tyler Zeller, 6-11 Fr. (16.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2 spg, 60.2% FG); F Christian Watford, 6-9 Jr. (12.2 ppg, 5.8 apg, 44.5% 3s); G Victor Oladipo, 6-5 Sr. (10.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2 apg). While Zeller and Will Sheehey were the heroes in Saturday’s win over VCU, Oladipo’s all-around play was crucial. He put up nine points (on 4-of-5 from the field), six assists, five rebounds, a steal and a block.
Why Each Team Is Dangerous
Kentucky: UK does a lot well. You know about the Wildcats’ size, their athleticism, their defense and their transition game. The big thing about this game, however, is how badly they’re going to want it. Do you think the Wildcats salivated as soon as they saw Indiana in their region when the brackets were announced? Do you think they remember the IU fans storming the court after Watford’s last-second shot on Dec. 10? Terrence Jones, in particular, will be out to have a big day after a 4-point, 1-rebound performance against the Hoosiers the first time around.
Indiana: The Hoosiers know they can beat Kentucky. One of the best shooting teams in the country, Indiana hit 9-of-15 from behind the arc in December’s win over Kentucky. They also out-rebounded the bigger Cats 28-26 and got 12 offensive boards. This is a young but confident team. For the year, Indiana is shooting 49.1 percent from the field, which is fifth in the nation, 43.7 from the 3-point line, second in the country, and 76.3 from the foul line, 11th. The Hoosiers also average 13.5 assists and have a plus-4.4 rebounding margin.
Why Each Team Is Vulnerable
Kentucky: Um, well, the Wildcats are not great in the half-court. They’re not always a tremendous shooting team. Teague used to be turnover prone. They have little tournament experience and not a lot of depth. The bottom line, it’s hard to find a lot of weaknesses with Kentucky.
Indiana: The Hoosiers turned the ball over 22 times in the win over VCU – and Kentucky will bring similar pressure. Starting PG Jordy Hulls had five turnovers in 30 minutes. And that wasn’t an anomaly. Indiana averages 13.6 errors per game and allows 6.8 steals. That will be the biggest part of Tom Crean’s gameplan – and John Calipari’s. If Indiana handles UK’s pressure, it has a chance to beat the Wildcats again. If not, it could be a blowout.
The Bottom Line: Kentucky will get its revenge, but as well as Indiana shoots, it’s hard to image it won’t stay within nine points.
CollegeHoops.Net Pick: Kentucky 80, Indiana 75
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 214-164-6
NCAA Tournament (through first two rounds): 27-21-1
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