North Dakota Fighting Hawks (2-0) at Kentucky Wildcats (1-1)
- Game time: 9:00 pm EST on Nov. 14
- TV Channel: SEC Network
- Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky
- Online Stream: You can stream the game online or on a mobile device using Watch ESPN, the Watch ESPN app and fuboTV.
- Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings)
- Radio: Tom Leach will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington. You can listen to an online radio stream via UK Athletics.
- Odds: Kentucky opened as a 26.5-point favorite. KenPom projected Kentucky to be a 24.5-point favorite.
- Prediction: ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Kentucky a 96.2% chance to win, while KenPom projects an 89-65 win.
- Rosters: Kentucky | North Dakota
- Live Stats
- Game Notes
Who is North Dakota?
The North Dakota Fighting Hawks men’s basketball team is a member of the Summit League. They’re currently 2-0 with wins over the Division III Northland College Lumberjacks and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers. Sports Illustrated ranked them as the 213th team in the country before the season started.
The Fighting Hawks moved to the Summit League in July of this year after previously being a member of the Big Sky Conference. They won the league in 2017 and made their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. As a No. 15 seed in the West region, they lost to No. 2-seeded and No. 4-ranked Arizona 100-82 in the First Round.
Last season didn’t go as well for UND as they finished the year with a 12-20 record and an eighth place finish in the Big Sky. However, they’re off to a much better start this year.
The Fighting Hawks won their first game of the season 104-48 against Northland College. UND did basically whatever they wanted in what was a severely outmatched Lumberjack team.
They went into their next game and won a 63-60 thriller against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This was a much better win for the Fighting Hawks as they went on the road to beat the Panthers.
UND is a very balanced team. They’ve had multiple players score in double figures in both games so far. They share the basketball well, but the offense isn’t great. More on that later. Their defense, however, is pretty solid, so things won’t come easily offensively for the Cats.
Fun Fact: Phil Jackson played basketball for the North Dakota Fighting Hawks from 1964-67 before being selected by New York Knicks in the 1967 NBA Draft.
Will the Cats defense come to play against a shaky North Dakota offense?
Kentucky’s defense was terrible in the first game of the year against the Duke Blue Devils. They looked much better against a decent Southern Illinois team, but this UND offense is pretty bad.
Yes, they scored 104 points in their first game of the season, but they were playing a Division III team. They made 14-29 three pointers and shot 53.8% from the field as they dominated the Lumberjacks the entire game.
While it shows that the UND offense might have some potential to be dangerous, I think the second game was much more representative.
Against the Panthers, UND shot 41.4% from the field and only made 5-18 three pointers. It’s always tough to play on the road, but I think the first game was more of the Fighting Hawks overpowering a much weaker opponent. They matched up much better with the Panthers and this was the result. They got a big win on the road, but the offense was poor.
Kentucky can absolutely shut this offense down with their length and on-ball defense. They will have to have a hand in the face of three-point shooters, as I think UND will sit at the three-point line all night. The Wildcats have the potential to hold this team under 50 points.
Can the Cats force the Fighting Hawks to turn the ball over?
The Cats have struggled to force turnovers in the first two games of the season. At the same time, they’ve turned the ball over at an alarming rate. That has to change for them to make a run in March.
They should be able to do just that against the Fighting Hawks. UND only forced 14 turnovers against an extremely inferior Division III opponent. They also only forced eight turnovers against the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers.
The Wildcats should be able to do a much better job holding onto the ball in this one as long as they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. They have to be more focused and execute.
While only forcing four turnovers against Duke, the Cats did a much better job against SIU. They forced 13 turnovers in that game, but they still can be so much better than that.
This UND team committed 10 turnovers against Northland and 14 against UWM. Kentucky should be able to force even more than that. UK has a ton of length and athleticism. If they get in the passing lanes and keep the Hawks out of the lane, then they should be able to turn them over a ton.
This should be a game the Cats dominate in every facet. After getting demolished by Duke, the Cats bounced back by beating SIU. However, they struggled to pull away in that game and let SIU hang around. That shouldn’t happen Wednesday.
This should be an easy one for UK.