(1) Kentucky vs. (16) Western Kentucky: South Region
Kentucky 32-2, 16-0 SEC (Regular-season Conference Champions; At large)
Western Kentucky 16-18, 7-9 Sun Belt (Conference Tournament Champions)
Time: 6:50 p.m. Thursday
Location: KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
Winner will face: (8) Iowa State or (9) Connecticut, Saturday
Kentucky No. 1 AP; No. 1 ESPN/USA Today
Western Kentucky 192
Players to Watch
Kentucky: C Anthony Davis, 6-11 Fr. (14.3 ppg, 10 rpg, 4.6 bpg); F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7 Fr. (11.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.1 spg); F Terrence Jones, 6-9 So. (12.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 1.3 spg). Davis is known for his rebounding and defense, but his offense has continued to improve throughout the season. In his last four games – all double-doubles – Davis has scored 71 points on 23-of-43 from the floor.
Western Kentucky: G Derrick Gordon, 6-2 Fr. (11.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.1 apg); F George Fant, 6-5 Fr. (10.3 ppg, 6 rpg, 47.9% FG); G Jamal Crook, 6-3 Jr. (8.6 ppg, 2.7 apg, 1.1 spg). Gordon came up big in the Hilltoppers’ crazy comeback win on Tuesday. He made big plays down the stretch, scored 11 points, had 12 rebounds (five offensive), three assists and two steals as WKU came back from 16 down with less than five minutes to play.
Why Each Team is Dangerous
Kentucky: What doesn’t? The Wildcats do a lot well, but do two things well in particular. The run the floor with efficiency and they protect the rim. UK is 23rd in the country in scoring and everyone on their team can run and score. They shoot 48.3 percent from the field, 37.1 from the 3-point line and they got to the foul line as often as all but 22 teams in the country. Davis leads the nation in blocked shots and Jones and Kidd-Gilchrist are also outstanding at protecting the paint. The Cats lead the nation with 8.8 blocks per contest.
Western Kentucky: The Toppers obviously don’t quit. They could have thrown in the towel while down double-digits in the final minutes against Mississippi Valley State and they could have done the same when they entered the Sun Belt Tournament at 10-18. WKU has won seven straight and is obviously feeling confident. The Hilltoppers are young but quite talented. They’ll be a team to watch in the future.
Why Each Team is Vulnerable
Kentucky: The Wildcats are only above average in their half-court offense and they don’t have a lot of perimeter scoring options. It won’t be an issue in this game, but it could be down the stretch.
Western Kentucky: They’re playing the most talented team in the country.
The Bottom Line: There isn’t a bigger mismatch in the entire first round of the tournament.
The Pick: Kentucky 78, Western Kentucky 46
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 198-150-6