Almost as soon as the NCAA Tournament announced the 2016, everyone pointed to a potential matchup of Kentucky and Indiana in the Round of 32.
Though the two blood-blood programs entered the Big Dance as underdogs in terms of winning it all, anytime two schools who've combined for 13 national titles get together is going to be a big deal. That will happen Saturday on CBS at 5:15 p.m. ET as the Cats and Hoosiers square off in Des Moines.
As much talk has been around North Carolina and even Kentucky in the East, Indiana and star guard Yogi Ferrell have somehow been overlooked, despite winning the Big Ten regular-season crown. Ferrell is easily one of the best overall guards in college basketball and someone capable of lighting up the scoreboard enough to carry IU to a UConn/Kemba Walker/Shabazz Napier type of run.
The 6-0, 180-pound ball of fire is averaging 17.1 points per game while shooting career bests from the field (45.9 percent) and three-point range (42.3) to go with 5.7 assists per game. Ferrell scored 38 points in one game this season and had an eight-game stretch in January which he averaged 20.3 ppg.
The Hoosiers are a talented but thin team without a lot of experience when it comes to March. That's why they'll likely rely heavily on Ferrell, so don't be surprised to see him being one of the top scorers of this tournament.
But don't mistake IU for a team with no supporting cast, especially when it comes to junior forward Troy Williams. A one-time UK recruit who John Calipari ultimately passed on, Williams is second on the team with 13.0 ppg and leads the team with 6.0 rebounds per game. The 6-7 big man is up to 15.7 ppg over his last seven games and has become a solid No. 2 scorer behind Ferrell.
Another Indiana forward that Cal and Kentucky recruited is freshman forward Thomas Bryant. The 6-10 mammoth is averaging 11.6 ppg and 5.7 rpg this season. He's a load in the post and will give the undersized Cats fits there if they don't keep a body on him frequently.
Here is everything you'll need for Kentucky vs Indiana.
When: March 19, 2016
Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa
Game Time: 5:15 p.m. ET
Announcers: Jim Nantz (PxP), Bill Rafferty (Analyst), Grant Hill (Analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (Sideline).
Local Radio: UK Radio Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt (info and affiliates)
National Radio: Westwood One (Brandon Gaudin and Mike Montgomery)
Odds: UK opened as a 3-point favorite, per Vegas Insider.
All-Time Series: UK leads 32-24
Last Meeting: UK won 102-90 (3/23/2012)
John Calipari’s Record vs. Indiana: 3-1
Tom Crean’s Record vs. Kentucky: 3-4
Projected IU Starters
#11 G - Yogi Ferrell, 6-0, 180 lbs, Sr.
#2 G - Nick Zeisloft, 6-4, 210 lbs, Sr.
#5 F - Troy Williams, 6-7, 215 lbs, Jr.
#30 F - Collin Hartman, 6-7, 215 lbs, Sr.
#31 F - Thomas Bryant, 6-10, 245 lbs, Sr.
Projected UK Starters
#3 G - Tyler Ulis, 5-9, 160 lbs, So.
#13 G - Isaiah Briscoe, 6-3, 202 lbs, Fr.
#23 G - Jamal Murray, 6-4, 207 lbs, Fr.
#1 F - Derek Willis, 6-9, 220 lbs, Jr.
#1 F - Skal Labissiere, 6-11, 225 lbs, Fr.
#22 F - Alex Poythress, 6-8, 230 lbs, Sr.
Prediction: This should be a game being played in the Sweet 16 or even Elite Eight, but the NCAA loves big matchups and bigger ratings, so they contracted this matchup to become arguably the biggest game of the first weekend.
both of these teams have been offensive juggernauts for most of this season, except for Kentucky on Thursday night as the defense helped them destroy Stony Brook. Having seen them be that dominating on defense after they were so good offensively recently gives me a bit more confidence they'll win this game since they're more balanced than the offensive-heavy Hoosiers.
But saying that, this should still be a thrilling affair that's more favorable to the offense as the two trade blows for 40 minutes. Both teams have chances to win it down the stretch, and it's Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray who make just a few more plays than Yogi Ferrell.
Final Score: Kentucky 78, Indiana 77