March Madness Pick
The round of 32 matchup everyone wanted is here and it looks to be one of the best Games of the first weekend. Neither Indiana nor Kentucky looked ahead in their first matchups, both winning by at least 25 points.
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These teams haven’t played since 2012 in the Sweet 16 and played that same year in the regular season. Once a yearly occurrence, Kentucky decided to end the rivalry. Indiana will get a chance for revenge on that last matchup as well as for ending the regular season rivalry. But it’s going to take a lot.
The Wildcats are playing their best basketball of the season and that was seen last Game when they scored 85 points, but also dominated on the defensive end with 15 blocks, holding Stony Brook to 26.3% from the field. Kentucky looked the part of a Final 4 team with all five starters reaching double digits and stud freshman Skal LAbissiere finally looking like he deserved to be on the cOurt.
However, you could say the same about Indiana after they dropped 99 points in the first round against Chattanooga. The Hoosiers didn’t play as good of defense, but that didn’t really matter since they shot 65% from the field. Doing that against Kentucky probably won’t happen, but the best news for Indiana is that Robert Johnson returned to the lineup after missing the last Four Games. Johnson came off the bench to scoreseven points and dish six assists.
Johnson will be vital in this matchup considering Kentucky probably has the best backcOurt combo in the nation with Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray. Ulis may be a little shorter, but he runs the show and keeps things moving for the Wildcats, while Murray is the bigger scorer that can shoot over everyone on the outside, but also take defenders off the dribble. Johnson is vital because Yogi Ferrell’s starting backcOurt mate has been Nick Zeisloft with Johnson out and Zeisloft won’t be able to keep up with the UK guards. Even if Zeisloft starts, expect Johnson to come in early, especially if UK gets hot.
Neither team has a great advantage in the frontcOurt with Thomas Bryant and either Troy Williams or Collin Hartman for Indiana against Alex Poythress and LAbissiere for Kentucky. Bryant vs. LAbissiere will be a battle of freshmen and both have been plenty inconsistent this season.
The one slight edge the Hoosiers will have is with Troy Williams who comes in at an athletic 6-7. He is one of Indiana’s better scorers and it’ll be interesting to see how Kentucky defends him, whether it’s Isaiah Briscoe or even Murray.
Both teams have x-factors off the bench that can be huge as well with Derek Willis and Marcus Lee for the Wildcats and Max Bielfeldt and OG Anunoby for the Hoosiers. Anunoby may be the guy to keep an eye on after as he had 27 points in the last two Games. He comes in at 6-8 and is super athletic at the forward spot.
Kentucky is the favorite because of who they are and what they’ve done the last few seasons in the Tournament. Indiana can’t be overlooked though after winning the Big Ten regular season. Ulis and Murray provide the biggest advantage in the backcOurt, but Indiana still has Yogi Ferrell and a more potent bench. This Game is getting hyped for a reason and should come down to the wire between two teams playing great basketball.
Our Pick – Indiana +3