(2) Kentucky vs. (11) Gonzaga
Sun., Mar. 25 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via WatchESPN
Oh yeah, there is another tourney going on this week. UK takes on Gonzaga in the Round of 16 for a spot in the Elite Eight. What to expect, and who to expect it from we shall see after the jump.
If I was a college basketball coach, I would be a complete disaster. I don't like studying stats, I have the patience of a flea, and I can not stand the unknown. Needless to say, this game would have killed me. We know virtually nothing about Gonzaga. They were a blip on the radar screen in Women's Basketball until a few years ago, they play in a conference not known for it's strength in women's hoops, but Gonzaga draws more than 5K per game and is 15th in the NCAA in attendance for Women's Basketball. They rarely lose at home, and they are playing in their third straight Sweet Sixteen, having exited in this round two years ago, the Elite Eight last year and now? They have a shot-blocker in Kayla Standish, a shooter in Katelan Redmon, and a host of role players, including the WCC Newcomer of the Year in Haiden Palmer, a redshirt sophomore. Gonzaga has had an up and down season this year as they went 14-2 in the WCC and earned an at-large bid for the tourney, a first for Gonzaga. But they have only 5 losses on the year, and for their seniors, this is their 12th NCAA Tournament game. They are experienced, balanced, and with the exception of a 30 pt beatdown by WCC Conference Champion BYU, they have not lost any game by a large margin all year.
The UKHOOPS squad has played some interesting games to get here. Coming off of a 65-62 win over Green Bay where UK played one half of flawless basketball and one half of something you could find in any American grade school recess lot, they should have less hassle with Gonzaga, but this is the Tournament and anything goes. The formula for UK has not and will not change. A'dia Mathies must lead this team. The turnovers have to stop, or at least decrease by a whole lot. Samarie Walker goes bck to the UCONN area where she bolted from just two years ago to join UK, and she is going to have to play a tough inside game against Standish and establish UK's presence in the paint. Amber Smith has got to take care of the basketball and run this team that way she has done it all year. And UK's defense should take care of the rest. It is the one thing that has not left UK at any point this season with the exception of that debacle in Knoxville a few weeks ago.
This game is going to be about which team imposes their will on the other. Gonzaga executes impressively in the half-court, and Kentucky is going to run like blazes. Control the tempo, control the game.