From ESPN’s Myron Medcalf to CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, many basketball analysts are calling for the Davidson Wildcats to pull the annual 12-seed over a 5-seed upset against the Kentucky Wildcats.
The basis of their claim seems to be Davidson’s ability to shoot three-pointers. And while it is certainly possible that they could catch fire and run Kentucky out of the gym, I believe those calling for the upset are underestimating Kentucky’s three-point defense.
Out of all 351 Division I basketball programs, Kentucky’s ranking in defensive three-point field goal percentage is tied for 3rd overall. Opponents are shooting an abysmal 29.9% from behind the arc against Kentucky in 869 attempts, which is the 6th most attempts against any team.
Davidson comes in shooting 39.1%, good for 28th in the nation, in 874 attempts from deep on the season. They have made 10.7 three-point field goals per game, which puts them at 10th in the country in that category.
Kentucky has only given up 7.6 three-pointers per game. Their top two opponents this season have been Kansas (10.1 per game) and Auburn (9.8 per game), both of which hit 8 three-pointers against the Cats.
Yes, Kentucky lost both of those games. But they also gave up an average of 8 three-pointers per game in the SEC Tournament, where they looked absolutely dominant.
This is definitely a matchup of strength on strength on Davidson’s end of the court, and whoever’s strength prevails could very well be the difference in the game.
But make no mistake, Kentucky is prepared to defend behind the arc. Has their success been more about their length or about luck?
Probably a little bit of both, and they are going to need them both against Davidson on Thursday.