When: 5:15 pm EST
Where: Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho
TV Channel: CBS
Announcers: Calling the game for CBS will be Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lisa Byington.
Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington. Go here for all radio listings.
Odds: UK opened as 6-point favorite. KenPom projected UK to be a 7.5-point favorite.
Predictions: KenPom gives UK a 75-percent chance of winning and projects an 84-77 win for the Cats. ESPN BPI gives UK a 75.7-percent chance of winning.
Projected UK Starters:
- G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (13.2 PPG, 4.9 APG)
- G Hamidou Diallo (10.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG)
- F Kevin Knox (15.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG)
- F PJ Washington (10.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG)
- C Nick Richards (5.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG)
Projected Buffalo Starters:
- G Davonta Jordan (7.0 PPG, 4.2 APG)
- G Jeremy Harris (15.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG)
- G CJ Massinburg (17.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG)
- G Wes Clark (14.1 PPG, 5.4 APG)
- F Ikenna Smart (3.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG)
The Kentucky Wildcats will face the Buffalo Bulls in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament.
That was the far from the expected scenario when Selection Sunday revealed the loaded South Region.
After all, between UK and Arizona, it was the Cats from Lexington that all the experts were picking to be upset. That almost panned out, as UK struggled mightily to overcome 12-seeded Davidson in a game that was in doubt until the final minutes.
But in the end, it was UK who came away with a 78-73 win. It kept UK undefeated in the Round of 64 under John Calipari, a perfect 8-0 mark.
The same was not true for Arizona. While struggling in the first half, the Cats from Tucson trailed just 40-38 at halftime.
Surely a team with this much talent would win the second half by more than two points, right?
Well, Buffalo had other plans.
They did what few teams have been able to do this season in limiting Arizona and superstar freshman center DeAndre Ayton. Buffalo was fronting Ayton for much of the game and forcing Arizona’s guards to make tough passes to get Ayton the ball.
The Wildcats have some talented guards, but great passers they are not. This strategy forced a lot of errant passes that led to turnovers or tough shots in the paint, and coupled with a hot-shooting game from the Bulls, they ran away with this game in the second half en route to a dominating 89-68 win, easily the biggest stunner of the NCAA Tournament.
Senior guard Wes Clark scored 25 points, while junior guard Jeremy Harris added 23. The two shot a combined 20-of-34 from the field and 6-of-14 from three-point range.
Junior guard CJ Massinburg leads the team in scoring at 16.9 ppg to go with 7.4 rpg. He finished with 19 points against Arizona.
Those three guards will carry the workload for Buffalo, who plays a lot of four-guard lineups and doesn’t have much size in the paint. That may be good news for UK. They’ve been among the nation’s best in defending the three-point line, though that didn’t exactly play out against Davidson, who finished 11-of-33 from deep.
Buffalo will also use a similar defensive strategy against UK in loading up the paint and forcing them to win with jumpers and three-pointers, something they struggled mightily to hit against Davison.
In fact, UK failed to hit a three-ball for the first time since 1988. If they struggle from deep again against Buffalo, the Cats won’t make it to the Sweet 16.
While Buffalo may have a 13-seed next to them, they’re playing far above that right now, so expect Saturday to be another down-to-the-wire slugfest for the Cats.
For what it’s worth, UK is 1-0 against Buffalo all-time and defeated the Bulls 71-52 in the 2014-15 season.