Kentucky vs West Virginia: Preview, Prediction, Poll

March 26th, 2010
Mar 27 2010 - 7:00pm

#1 Kentucky Wildcats

Team Preview

Kentucky Stats

RPI 2nd

 

#2 West Virginia Mountaineers

Team Preview

West Virginia Stats

RPI 3rd

 

Vegas Odds: Kentucky -4

 

Why Watch? Arguably the top 2 remaining teams (the RPI says so as does their results) in the tournament face each other with a Final Four trip on the line. Why these two are meeting here and not in the Final Four or later is an issue for the selection committee.

 

How Kentucky Got Here: Kentucky 62 - Cornell 45

How West Virginia Got Here: West Virginia 69 - Washington 56

 

Why West Virginia will win: 

Cornell was able to limit Kentucky to just 62 points and 2-16 from three. West Virginia, 11th in the country in overall defense, will similarly be able to shut down Kentucky's attack. And unlike the Big Red, West Virginia has the physical strength to stay close in the battle of the boards and has a more diverse offensive attack beyond merely hoping for threes to fall.

 

Mountaineer to Watch:

Da'Sean Butler, G/F - 17 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg

I usually reserve this spot for more of an X-factor type player, but Butler's balky hand makes his play on Saturday a bit of an unknown. He says he's virtually 100% ready to go and that ice and rest have done the trick, but you never know. He's easily WVU's best player and the guy they rely on in the clutch. He's hit 6 game-winning shots and if WVU is to win, he might need to pull a 7th out of the hat.

 

Why Kentucky will win:

Unlike other top seeds, UK has dominated their first three opponents, winning by an average of over 20+ ppg. Sure, this team has flaws (weak 3-pt shooting, too many turnovers), but they're physically superior to every opponent they play.. faster (Bledsoe), longer (Wall), and bigger (Cousins.) Kentucky's D is underrated and makes up for some the noted weaknesses.

 

Wildcat to Watch:

DeMarcus Cousins, C - 15 ppg, 10 rpg, 1 apg

The man-child is a ridiculous 17 of 20 from the floor so far in the tournament. While Wall might be the game's best overall talent, Cousins is the most dominant player in that no one matches up with him physically. Cousins has a physical edge on WVU's Kevin Jones, and could be the difference in the game. Id Cousins stays out of foul trouble and hits free throws, UK might not be beatable.

 

How it will go down:

Kentucky is the front-runner to win the national title now that Kansas is out of the picture, and I think they'll prove just how dominant they are by beating WVU by at least 8 points. West Virginia isn't a great offensive team to begin with, and UK's D should force the Mountaineers into a lot of jump shots. A 67-56 score seems appropriate.

 

Betting Pick: Kentucky

 

Real Pick: Kentucky