Indiana has rotated up to six freshman through the starting lineup, and this year's team features nine scholarship players and six walk-ons. Also, six of Indiana's top seven scorers are freshman. Indian's biggest weakness is on the interior despite some pretty productive play from freshman forward Tom Prichard, who leads Indiana in scoring and rebounding (14/7+). Devon Dumes leads the Hoosiers guards in scoring (13ppg), but like many of the young Indiana players, he has plenty to learn on the defensive end of the floor. Freshman walk-on point guard Daniel Moore has started seven games and rotates with touted freshman Verdell Jones lll, who has missed the last three games following a concussion and is questionable against Kentucky. Nick Williams is a versatile freshman wing that is scoring 9ppg while providing some rebounding help and sharp shooting freshman Matt Roth adds a little spark off the bench as the teams top 3-point shooter. Indiana coach Tom Cream knows his young team has a long ways to go, but has been pleased with their willingness to work and learn. The talent is lacking along with experience however, and there will be plenty of leaning in Lexington against Kentucky. The Hoosiers have one win away from home on a neutral floor in Maui against Chaminade, and they will get a rude awakening to the reality of big time basketball at Rupp Arena.
I saw Kentucky play live in Las Vegas and selected them in their win over West Virginia as an 8-point underdog. The Wildcats held the Mountaineers to 30% shooting and just 17 points in the second half. Coach Billy Gillispie's team will continue to get even better on the defensive end, and they have the dominant post player on the floor with Patrick Patterson, who will likely go for at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in this contest. Along with Perry Stevenson's strength on the glass and emerging freshman Darius Miller, Kentucky should have their way in the paint and dominate the Hoosiers on the defensive end. Junior guard Jodie Meeks is a prolific scorer averaging 23ppg and providing a solid insider/outside combo with Patterson. Point guard play has been a sore spot for KU and they have been careless with the basketball too often this early season. However, the Wildcats ball pressure will force plenty of ill-advised passes and turnovers against an Indiana team that has really struggled with turnovers.
Look for the Wildcats to get a comfortable win going away.
Winner: Kentucky Margin 15+ points