Kentucky and Indiana both disposed of their opponents in impressive fashion. Now they face off for a shot to move to the sweet 16. The game is tomorrow at 5:15 on CBS and is likely to be the marquee match-up of the day for the tournament.
There are quite a few parallels to the programs this year that we will get into, but the immediate realization is that both teams are exceptional on offense, both teams are under-seeded, and both teams have All-American Point Guards leading them.
Before we get into it, let's look at how the two programs stack up historically.
Kentucky is arguably the greatest college basketball program in history, and Indiana is a top-10 program. To get to see these two go at it in the round of 32 is a treat for college basketball fans.
Undoubtedly, the matchup that will draw the headlines and drive the conversation, before and during the game, is going to be the two point guards playing; Tyler Ulis and Yogi Ferrell.
Ferrell and Ulis will go directly at each other and the winner of that matchup will likely play a significant part in who wins the game.
The only people who will give IU the advantage here will be IU fanboys. Ferrell is a great player, but he is a notch below Ulis in every category except for less than 1 rebound per game.
Ulis notoriously rises to the challenge, and the challenge of playing head-to-head with Ferrell (a player some may consider to be better than him) is going to be a big driving factor for Ulis.
I feel that a significant determining factor in 'Yogi vs. Ulis' (other than the turnovers) is the defense SEC Defensive Player of The Year Tyler Ulis will bring to the table. Ferrell will not provide a formidable D, but you can put money on it that Ulis will absolutely hound Ferrell and pester him all night.
Tyler Ulis on #IUBB rivalry: "We don't know anything about it really. We haven't played them. The only rival we know is Louisville."— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) March 18, 2016
So, what can we expect from the team flows as it concerns their season's performance:
There is a really good shot this is going to be a barn-burner on offense. Both teams are top-10 in KenPom offensive efficiency and both teams have been scoring a lot of points lately. Anytime you have a team coming into their own and they have all the offensive parts, it is a beautiful thing.
Now put two teams doing that on the court together (who are both suspect defensively), and it has the makings of potential ridiculousness. You can go all the way down that list, tit-for-tat on who has the advantage.
- Both Teams score around 80 per game
- Both Teams win by 10+ in victory
- Both Teams have a lot of assists per game
- Both Teams rebound at a similar clip (and mirror each other in offensive boards)
- Indiana is a better shooting team, but a lot of that is due to Kentucky's early woes dragging their % down
- Kentucky does turn the ball over less, which could be a big factor if UK can turn the Hoosiers over a lot.
- Both Teams give up 68 points per game
- Both Teams give up just over double digit offensive rebounds per game
- Both Teams are literally exact matches on defensive rebounds per game
- UK Blocks about a shot and a half more per game, but IU steals nearly the same clip more than UK
- Because of those blocked shots, Kentucky gives up a lower effective FG% per game though.
THE JIMMIES AND THE JOES
- Do NOT let Indiana lose their mind from Three
- Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray have to be the normal Ulis and Murray
- Get a normal to above average game from Derek Willis (10 points 5+ rebounds)
- The Good Version of Poythress makes the trip
- Skal and Lee continue their normal offseason play.
THE Xs AND THE Os
WLKY Louisville TV reporter says Tom Crean is better coach than Calipari...excuse me while I laugh hysterically https://t.co/lqz5aBur2G— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) March 18, 2016
Now, let's have a bit more of a laugh by looking at how the two coaches compare with their on-court production. I know that Calipari has 7 years on Crean, but short of Crean going undefeated the next seasons, it is not even worthy of more than a 2-3 minute discussion.
This is going to be a fantastic game to watch as a fan of college basketball, however, it is going to be a miserable nail-biting intense viewing session for die-hard fans of each team.
It is going to be a game of guard play leading the way, and likely A LOT of exciting plays that will make the 'One Shining Moment' reel.
Kentucky is a 3-point favorite and IF... IF they play the good version of their game, UK should win. If UK plays their A-Game, it could be a double digit victory and a message sender.
Having said all of that, Indiana is a damn good team this year and they could beat us if they go off from three and can somehow prevent Jamal Murray from having one of his NBA Jam 'HE'S ON FIRE!' halves.
I like the 'Cats to win going away in a high scoring affair. Something to the tune of 88-78 with UK pulling away at the end on free throws and on the back of a big game from Derek Willis.