Just a little background info for this to begin. I am a UL fan who is forced to hear about UK all the time from family and friends who are almost all UK fans based primarily by the fact of where we are from and it is forced down their throats from birth.
Davis vs Dieng
Anthony Davis is all first team everything and obviously one of, if not, the best players in the country. Early in the year he was all defense and his offense came from lob dunks or offensive put backs. Now he has started to hit the 18 foot jump shot at a decent success rate to where he has the green light to shot the 3 shot as well. Dieng on the other hand spent a lot of time early in the year learning how to play major minutes while staying out of foul trouble and still working on his offensive game. To say he has improved would be a drastic understatement. He has become an elite shot blocker, added some moves to his post game and becoming more confident in his jump shot. In the first game Dieng dominated Davis in the first half like no one else has all season. In the second half Dieng picked up 3 quick fouls and UK pushed their lead out while he sat on the bench. If they both stay out of foul trouble that should be the best position matchup in the NCAA tournament. Dieng is the one play who's length, athleticism and quickness can match up with Davis. Dieng is most crucial to our success in this game.
Terrance Jones vs Chane
Chane being out in the first game really killed us on the glass as MKG had around 20 rebounds. Neither of the two are great jump shooters even though both are capable of hitting the open shot if given to them. Quickness edge would have to go to Jones while Chane gets the power advantage (as well as the Babies 4 Behannen movement edge). As long as were in the 2-3 matchup zone this will favor us because UK is exclusively man to man so Chane should be able to post up Jones. If we are forced to go man though Chane could have a tough time staying in front of Jones which could lead to problems with Dieng and foul problems.
MKG vs Kyle
Not much needs to be said about MKG from the previous matchup because he absolutely killed us with his 20-20 game. Not a great shooter but will hit some shots but by and far most important thing is keeping him in front of you. There hasnt been many people all year capable of doing that so this is one matchup where he will probably get his but we have to limit this as much as possible. Chane should eat up more than a few of those rebounds this time around. As well as MKG played on offense he locked Kyle down on defense as well. Kyle offensive game has improved since with him taking shots off the dribble, using a shot fake and runner in the lane. He has to hit any open shots that he may get, rebound the ball and play tough hard nose basketball like we have seen at times this year.
Lamb vs C Smith
If either one of these two get an open look from 3 you might as well put the points on the board. They just do not miss many open shots. Lamb has improved more than anyone in my opinion this season. He will no longer just stand around the 3 point line and wait for open jumpers. Now he shot fakes and penetrates and like everyone else on UK throws the lob to Davis for the easy dunk. MAKE THEM IT THAT FLOATER IN THE LANE! Chris is solid and steady but against UK last time he played scared. There was at least 3 times he was on a fast break and didnt go up for the lay up for fear of being blocked. I dont expect to see that this time around since he has stated he wants UK but he has to play his game and not try to do to much. Play with the heart that got him here and not be scared.
Teague vs Siva
Teague is probably the biggest disappointment on UK because of the hype he came in with and the same could of been said about Siva up until about 3-4 weeks ago. Teague will turn the ball over and if they can find a way to get him in foul trouble they really have no true backup point guard which means the press would be that much more effective. Siva has to stay under control, not over pentetrate and most importantly stay away from the hand check fouls that force him to the bench early. Once Teague gets it over half court back off and let him shoot 3's all day. Indiana didnt have a defender within 5 feet from him because they wanted him to shoot the ball. Siva is very similar in that aspect. He is not a great shooter but he has been much better since February and his confidence is at an all time high right now which is basically the best case scenario when he runs our offense.
Miller vs R. Smith (6th man)
Darius Miller could be very dangerous to us. He has been shooting the ball great as of late, extremely confident and with his length and size it is difficult to really challenge his shot for anyone other than our big men. I would try to explain Russ but thats just not possible. I said about 3 games into the season he reminded me of Preston because he was a defensive spark plug who was capable of going on a shooting streak where anything would go in but you had to live with some of the crazy stuff he did as well.
My predictions for this tournament so far have been pretty accurate. (Yes I actually have the texts that show I predicted all of this before the game)
I predicted the win over Davidson to be 70-64 and we won 69-62.
The NMS game scared me but I said we would win by 2-5 points and we won by 4.
MSU like many others just felt very confident in saying we would win by 10-12 and won by 13.
Florida game scared me to death and now I know why. I predicted 69-66 with Florida missing threes in the final seconds for us to win. Also that Russ would have some classic russ moments but was wrong because I though Wayne would be a key to victory. But we won 72-68.
The UK game I am still not sure of what to think. I think we match up better than anyone because they have 2 shooters that see a lot of minutes (Lamb and Miller) so I dont think the 3 point shot will hurt us. The question for us is more can Chane and Dieng stay out of foul trouble. If Chane will Swop continue playing at such a high level. My prediction is CRP will have something very good up his sleeve for Cal given a week to prepare. I expect to see a lot of variations of press, man to man and zone (maybe even the 1-3-1) against UK in order to try to confuse them into some turnovers to get easy baskets. While I do think we will be out rebounded I think it will be out rebounded it will not be by 25 or whatever it was the first game. Overall I think this game will be played in the 60's and we win 67-65. In order for that to happen we will need Fat Wayne to play some good minutes because he is the one person who has somewhere near the athleticism of MKG who could contain him.
O and there will be some classic russ moment in this game (good or bad).