There are only eight spots available for the weekend in the NCAA Tournament, and today, we are making our Sweet 16 picks in the duel between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Kentucky Wildcats.
Sweet 16 Matchup: #4 Indiana Hoosiers vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats
Date: Friday, March 23rd, 9:45 ET
Location: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Sweet 16 Odds: Kentucky -9
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: CBS
It has been well documented that the Wildcats have only been beaten twice this year, and it goes without saying that Head Coach John Calipari has been showing his team tape of that game against the Hoosiers all week long trying to get in his team’s head just how dangerous of a squad this is. Of course, there is a big difference between playing here in Atlanta in SEC country and in Bloomington, where IU basketball is king. But, we also can’t forget that these teams are going to look totally different now than they did in December, as there are a heck of a lot more games of experience under the belts of all of the youngsters involved.
That probably means that Kentucky isn’t going to get sucked into the moment of the game. Remember that this team was able to knock off a very veteran North Carolina Tar Heels side earlier this year, though we know that that was a home game. The addition of Cody Zeller to this roster from last year really got it over the top. The frosh has averaged 15.5 points and 6.5 boards per game this year, and he has had big time tourney. Zeller has scored 30 total points, has 19 boards, five assists, a block, and six steals. Christian Watford is the man that hit the big time shot to beat the Wildcats, but we know that he is going to have to be a heck of a lot better than this, knowing that Verdell Jones III is now out of the lineup for the rest of the season.
Kentucky is a team that has definitely done some growing over the course of the last two months or so. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be a superstar in the NBA, as will Anthony Davis. Doron Lamb is the only starter of the bunch that had experience from last year’s Final Four team. The key though, is Marquis Teague. He has had a huge tourney, scoring 36 points with 11 assists and six boards. There is still a question as to whether this frosh is going to be able to get the job done against the big time teams in the tourney, and this is going to be a heck of a lot bigger test than games against the Iowa State Cyclones and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
We saw Kentucky get the job done for the most part over the course of the season. The team is now in a good place, and it is really destroying teams a heck of a lot more often than not. The Hoosiers are having a great year, and even if they bow out now by 70 points, the season would still be classified as a success. Head Coach Tom Crean will get IU back to a championship level, but this isn’t anywhere near a Final Four team yet.
Sweet 16 Free Pick: Kentucky Wildcats -9
Wisconsin vs. Syracuse Projected Final Score: Kentucky 79 – Indiana 66