#4 Indiana Hoosiers vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats -9
For those of you who have been living without cable television, internet, a radio or a sports page the last four months, Indiana dealt Kentucky their only loss of the regular season in a thrilling, Christian Watford buzzer-beating, program-redefining win at Assembly Hall this Winter. The win vaulted Indiana into the Top 15 in the nation and was a huge component in helping them secure a #4 seed, despite going just 11-7 and finishing fifth in the Big Ten.
Their reward for that hard-earned four seed? A rematch with the best team in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats. For the rematch, a few things are different this time around. For starters, this game is on a neutral floor (though now that the town has been dubbed “Cat-lanta” one can debate how “neutral” the floor really us…). Secondly, Indiana is playing without injured starter, heavy contributor and senior leader Verdell Jones III. And lastly, don’t you think maybe, just maybe, some of those Cats have seen the ESPN promo with the Christian Watford shot somewhere between one hundred and one hundred million times and have been salivating for the rematch??
I do too. The Cats get their chance for revenge tonight, and unfortunately for Tom Crean and Hoosier fans, I don’t think it is going to be pretty. I think Kentucky not only wins, but wallops the less athletic Hoosiers. Kentucky is markedly better at every position on the floor. Even Indiana’s stud freshman Cody Zeller is a poor matchup for them going against the defensive brilliance of Anthony Davis. Davis spent much of their first matchup riding the pine with foul trouble, however him getting into foul trouble was more of an exception than a rule. Davis is one of the most disciplined shot blockers in NCAA history, rarely getting into significant foul trouble so I don’t expect him to suffer the same fate this evening.
Indiana finished the season very strong, knocking off eight of their last ten opponents, most notably Michigan State, giving IU their third win against a Top 5 opponent on the season. However, every single one of those wins was in the cozy and chaotic confines of Assembly Hall. Not so tonight in Cat-lanta, as the Hooisers will find out quickly.
Kentucky not only won games this season, they did in in dominant fashion. 13 of their last 15 wins have been by more than the nine points they are laying tonight. They have blown out good teams too, teams like Iowa State, Vanderbilt, Florida (twice), and if you want to add some early season wins to their hitlist, how about Kansas, North Carolina and Louisville; all of whom who are still playing basketball by the way…
Kentucky is so good, so athletic, so fast, and so tough I don’t see any possible way Indiana beats them tonight. They will play hard, and they will play with passion as they always do and I expect them to give a gallant effort, but in the end it just won’t be enough. Give me Kentucky and give me the Big Blue big.
Free Pick: Kentucky Wildcats -9