Current record: 34-2 (16-0 in SEC)
Current RPI:2 (IU is #17)
Current Sagarin: 1 (IU is #8)
Current Pomeroy: 1 (IU is #11)
2010-11 record: 29-9 (10-6), lost to Connecticut in Final Four
2010-11 RPI: 7
2010-11 Sagarin: 5
2010-11 Pomeroy: 6
Pomeroy scouting report
Series: Kentucky leads 31-24
TV: 9:45 Friday, CBS
Blog:A Sea of Blue
As I said a few days ago, this is the fourth meeting between Indiana and Kentucky in the Tournament. UK leads 2-1 in those games. Interestingly, at least to me, every IU-UK game in the Tournament has been during a season in which IU won the regular season meeting in Bloomington. That means nothing, but it's interesting, at least.
The Wildcats are, of course, loaded. Anthony Davis is going to win or has won a number of national freshman of the year and player of the year awards, and for good reason. He is shooting a Zeller-eque 63 percent from the field, he grabs ten rebounds a game and blocks an astounding 4.6 shots per game. Of the 338 teams in Division 1, 291 average fewer than 4.6 blocks per game. He is an astoundingly good player at both ends of the court, and his foul trouble in game one was one of the main reasons IU was able to win. In 24 minutes against IU, Davis scored only 6 points, and blocked only 3 shots. The foul trouble was crucial not just because of how good Davis is, but because Kentucky does not like to go very deep. Of UK's reserves, only Darius Miller and Kyle Wiltjer have played in every game, and Wiltjer averages only 12 minutes per game. This UK team is so good because the Wildcats aren't relying on just freshmen. While their six man rotation includes three freshmen (Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague), it also includes two sophomores (Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones) and a senior (Darius Miller). Jones also had a subpar game against IU.
A look at UK's Pomeroy page makes clear that the Wildcats don't do anything poorly. They rank in the top 20 nationally in offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, defensive effective field goal percentage, offensive effective field goal percentage, offensive turnover percentage, offensive rebounding percentage, defensive two point field goal percentage, and block percentage. The only Pomeroy statistic in which the Wildcats are below average is in defensive turnover percentage, where the Wildcats rank #293 nationally with 17.8 percent. Of course, the Wildcats have no real incentive to be overly aggressive regarding turnovers, because they block 21 percent of field goal attempts.
As I mentioned at the time, IU won the first game because of its perimeter shooting, and not just on Watford's last shot. The teams were dead-even in turnover percentage and close to even in offensive rebounding percentage. Kentucky's overall shooting percentage was much better than IU's (55 to 43). IU's only advantages were at the line (14-17 compared to 10-17) and from behind the arc (9-15 compared to 2-7). Kentucky scored 56 points on two point attempts compared to 32 for IU. IU scored 41 points from the line and from deep compared to 16 for Kentucky. If IU is to win again, then lots of the same things that happened in December will have to happen again. IU need not turn into Michigan or Northwestern, but it's difficult to imagine a good scenario for IU that doesn't involve dominating from behind the arc. Perimeter shooting is the one area where IU has a decided advantage over the Wildcats. IU can't end up far in the red on turnovers, either.
Vegas has put a 9 point spread on this one. Ken Pomeroy says 76-60 with a 30 percent chance of the upset. That sounds about right. Kentucky is the best team that IU has played this season, but IU has not shied away from the best this year. While IU isn't nearly as tournament-tested as Kentucky's upperclassmen, IU did win a tough elimination game last weekend. "Good Watford" must make an appearance. Jordan Hulls must bounce back from his bad game against VCU. Victor Oladipo must remain under control and not be a turnover machine. Remy Abell must provide some poised and relatively mistake-free minutes. Cody Zeller must stay out of foul trouble. Those are a lot of "musts," but we've seen all of those things happen multiple times this season. If IU loses, this team still has earned an important place in IU's basketball history. If IU wins, then it gets really crazy. And it can happen, because it happened before.