2014 NCAA Tournament Live Game Thread: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Wichita State Shockers

The Shockers are the #1 seed in the Midwest. The Wildcats are #8. Will the Cinderella slipper fit Kentucky's huge foot?

Here we are, Big Blue Nation — right where we expected to be. Today, Kentucky faces the #1 seed in the Midwest, the Wichita State Shockers, in a game that will determin who will face the Louisville Cardinals in the Sweet Sixteen. Needless to say, this game is pregnant with story lines including the whole "undefeated" thing, the potential for WSU to take revenge on the team that dismissed them last season in the Final Four, and the opportunity for yet another Kentucky-Louisville classic that, like 2012, will capture the imagination of the Bluegrass. This is a big game for all kinds of fascinating reasons, but the most important reason of all is simply to survive and advance.

Essentials for victory

  • Take care of the basketball — For the love of God, Kentucky, if you want to have a chance you must avoid turnovers like the nails in your coffin they are.

  • Attack the rim, but look for the pass first — This was, and always has been Calipari's tweak. No matter if Andrew Harrison is out or in, whoever runs the point must do this.

  • Wichita State likes to play a pressure matchup zone very similar to what Louisville likes to do along with a traditional man-to-man. Kentucky must use penetration to turn this into a man-to-man, where Kentucky has an advantage. But they must look to pass first out of penetration.

  • Make shots — A performance from the arc like the one Friday will get Kentucky sent home. They must make shots against WSU today. That is not optional.

  • If Kentucky's defensive intensity can approach what we saw versus Kansas State, this game will be very tough for WSU.

  • Kentucky must use their size, it's their most potent advantage. Taking that further, they have to make layups.

This is a tough spot for both teams. WSU will execute — Kentucky is not disruptive enough to stop that. That means the Wildcats must do so also, and even if it isn't as pretty as what we are likely to see from WSU, it must be equally effective. If the Wildcats can own the pain and force WSU to operate on the perimeter, the Wildcats will have a chance. If WSU gets a lot of points near the basket, or Kentucky turns the ball over a lot, it's likely to be the season swan song for the Wildcats.

Let's get this done. Go, 'Cats!

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