- Time/Date: 1:00 pm ET on Sunday, December 4th, 2022.
- Location: The O2 Arena in London, England.
- TV Channel: ABC will have TV coverage for this matchup.
- Announcers: Karl Ravech and Jay Bilas will call the action.
- Live Online Stream: WatchESPN, ESPN+, SEC Network+, or the ESPN app.
- Radio: Tom Leach and Jack Givens have the UK radio network call on the UK Sports Radio Network.
- Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
- Rosters: UK | UM
- Team Sheets: UK | UM
- Stats To Know: UK | UM
- Odds: DraftKings Sportsbook has Kentucky as a 9-point favorite. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Kentucky an 85.4% chance of winning, and Bart Torvik has it at 74%, and KenPom is at 78%.
- Predictions: TeamRankings has Kentucky winning 75-67. Bart Torvik picked the Cats to win 75-68. KenPom is going with a 76-67 victory, Kentucky!
However, the Wildcats have an opportunity to redeem themselves on Sunday when they play a preseason top 25 team in the Michigan Wolverines in London.
Thus far, the Wolverines look like a team that plays to their opponent, as they have just a six-point average margin of victory, so don’t be surprised by a close game.
Oh, and we can’t forget the last time these two programs played...
This is a big test for both sides. Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.
Solve rotation issues
The Rotation problems have been there from the beginning of this season, but the Wildcats are seven games in, and it doesn’t appear to have gotten any better.
In the first half of the Bellarmine game, there were times there were three non-shooters in at the same time, which allowed the Knights to pack the paint against Tshiebwe and forced bad shots and turnovers. With this being Kentucky’s point of emphasis on offense in the first half, they scored just 21 points.
In the second half, most lineups included two shooters which opened up the floor as they made five threes on 45% shooting, and shot 56% from the field in general. The heralded Wallace-Fredrick-Reeves-Toppin-Tshiebwe lineup even got some run with good results.
With that said, Kentucky has depth to work with. While some players need to step up, the coaching staff has the responsibility of finding lineups that allow players to play toward their strengths and benefit the team. That doesn’t include “two-big” or “non-shooting” lineups.
Will length bother Oscar Tshiebwe?
Last season, Oscar Tshiebwe was undoubtedly the most dominant player in college basketball. Hence, why he was the unanimous National Player of the Year. Yet, he did struggle at times, especially against length.
Three of Tshiebwe’s lesser performances last year came against Alabama, Auburn, and Western Kentucky. What did these teams have in common? They all had bigs that were at least 7 feet tall and could block shots.
Despite his 6-foot-9, 260-pound frame, Tshiebwe is taken out of his game a bit when playing against that kind of length. In the three aforementioned games, Tshiebwes's averages went from 17.4 points and 60.6% shooting from the field to just 13.3 points and 45.9% , as he was forced to extend his game to the mid-range and forced inside shots at times.
Michigan has their own 7-foot-big (7-foot-1 to be exact) that will match up against Tshiebwe, Hunter Dickinson. The Wolverine big is one of the best shot blockers in the country, averaging 2.3 per contest, and allows his matchup to shoot just over 40% from the field this season.
Tshiebwe has yet to play against this type of player this season, and it will be interesting to see how he handles it on Sunday.
Which version of Michigan will Kentucky play?
Ranked as the No. 22 team in the preseason, Michigan has the talent of a top 25 team, but they have been inconsistent this season.
Just this past Tuesday, the Wolverines pushed No. 3 Virginia to the end, only losing 70-68. However, they have struggled against lesser opponents like Eastern Michigan and Ohio, and lost in an 87-62 blowout to Arizona State.
The biggest variances in their performances are their poor defense and inconsistent scoring.
On the defensive end, the Wolverines have taken a step back from where they have been. Ranked as the fourth most efficient defense in 2021 by KenPom, Michigan is ranked just 87th this season. While Dickinson can block shots, opponents haven’t struggled to get to the rim or get shots off in general, with Michigan ranked toward the bottom of the country in field goal attempts allowed.
On the offensive side of the ball, Michigan has just two players that average double-figures, Hunter Dickinson and Jett Howard. Outside of these two players, the Wolverines' production has been inconsistent, but when they are provided ample help they can compete with anyone in the country, as seen in the Virginia game.