clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NCAA Tournament Layup Line: Kentucky

New, 6 comments

It'll take a Herculean effort to keep this matchup close. Add in a few prayers, mix in some lucky bounces, sprinkle in the craziness and maybe - just maybe...

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The David and Goliath storyline doesn't do it justice unless Goliath's riding into town on a tank while David tries to stop him with a toothpick. Or that's how most around the country would have you feel about nearly every opponent the University of Kentucky has played this year.

And, well, it's not that far off in all honesty...

  • Game: Saturday, March 21 @ 2:40pm ET
  • Location: KFC Yum! Center; Louisville, KY
  • TV/Radio: CBS, 700 WLW

Let's get the scary, daunting, and utterly ridiculous stats out of the way first:

  1. The Cincinnati Bearcats will face the most impressive offense they've faced all year on Saturday.
  2. The Cincinnati Bearcats will face the most impressive defense they've faced all year on Saturday.

KenPom ranks Kentucky with the fifth most efficient offense in all of college basketball - 15 spots higher than Ole Miss, the next most impressive offense UC's faced. And UK's defense? Well, it's ranked #1 in all of college basketball.

This brings to mind a certain famous pro wrestler I used to have quite the affinity for...

How much fun was Thursday night? Tell me you let out a couple of Ric Flair Wooooo's? Sure, I hate them at Reds games, but Thursday night was an out of body experience where raw emotion overcomes every cell in your heart and you instantly remember why you love this game, this team and this university so much.

And if that's how Thursday made you feel, just imagine what...

Snap out of it. Ain't happening.

In order to beat Kentucky, the experts say you have to do a few things really well, but let's be honest; you've gotta do more than a few things really well to beat Kentucky. You've gotta be lucky. And they have to be equally as unlucky.

And sometimes in March, the basketball gods shine bright on specific teams. What if Cincinnati...

Stop it. Move along. Won't be close.

Typically, I like to call out certain players from the opposing team that I think it's key to focus on, but you could make that case for just about every member of the Wildcat roster. Down low, both Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein will be more than a handful. And just about every guard and wing, from the Harrison twins to freshman Tyler Ulis to anyone-else-wearing-a-UK-jersey will pose quite the challenge.

Kentucky has shown some vulnerability this season but it's hard to translate it into anything because they've been so dominant in almost every phase of every game. They did survive earlier this year by just 3 against Ole Miss.

And could it be, that the Bearcats somehow manage to...

Give it a rest, already. We're talking about a team that needed a prayer and extra time just to beat Purdue. Can you imagine what Kentucky's NBA squad will do against Cincinnati? Here's what I'm imagining:

What the Bearcats have to do to win:

  • Control the pace. You can't run up and down the floor with the Wildcats. Their bigs are too damn fast and athletic. So, for Cincinnati to have a chance, they'll have to revert to their old, comforting ways and slow down each and every possession. That includes hitting their free throws, too, as a missed free throw can easily turn into a UK fast break. Control, control, oh - and pray...
  • Get hot from 3-point land. If there's ever a game where we need Farad Cobb to play out of his mind, it's Saturday. And Cobb won't be enough. The Bearcats won't be able to score often from the paint, so they'll need Johnson, Caupain and Cobb to combine for at least 10 long-range bombs on at least 35% shooting.
  • Control the glass. The Wildcats are, surprise, a fairly strong rebounding squad - but Cincinnati will have to do a better job of going from their zone defense to block out position if they want to keep this one close. If UK misses, you can't let them put it back for an easy layup.

Who are we kidding, it'll take more than just those three things to win the game Saturday.

It'll take an interim head coach instructing, teaching and willing like never before. It'll take a team full of unsung heroes knocking down baskets and blocking shots like you haven't seen this entire year. It'll take the most ridiculous effort you've ever put forth coupled with unbelievable luck. For the Cincinnati Bearcats to win this game, it'll take something crazy. You want crazy? Bearcats win: 61-60.