One of the common criticisms of John Calipari’s teams at Kentucky has been their youth. It’s been something that many of the naysayers have said will prevent them from winning a National Championship. The Cats will face a Baylor team this afternoon which may match up with the Cats athletically about as good as any team they will face this season. However, for probably the first time all year, Kentucky might just be the more experienced team.
Both teams have one senior as a major contributor. Big man Quincy Acy fills the senior leadership role for Baylor and Darius Miller for Kentucky. Both teams have super sophomores as well. Perry Jones III, a suspected one-and-done when he arrived in Waco last season, has returned for the Bears as Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb have for Kentucky. Quincy Miller is Baylor’s diaper dandy, and we all know the Cats have plenty of those.
Both teams have an abundance of young players with length and athleticism, which will present one-on-one match-ups that I’m sure NBA scouts are drooling over. Also, look for Baylor to use that length in a zone defense at times to force UK to make outside shots. If Davis (and Jones) can stay on the court and his presence is simply there inside defensively to contain Acy and Jones III, UK should be in position to win the game provided they can match their season shooting averages. The bottom line: the Cats just have to be their usual selves.
UK’s season shooting averages are 49% from the field, 73% from the free throw line, and 38% from 3-point range. If they shoot even close to those percentages, Davis stays out of foul trouble, and Terrence Jones plays as physical as he did Friday night, we win. It’s that simple. Although both teams are very talented, Kentucky has clearly executed all season long at a much higher level than Baylor. The Bears are 1-5 against the top 5 seeds in this tournament on the season, while the Cats are 6-2. Kentucky is better coached, more polished, poised, and maybe even slightly more experienced when you factor in that three key players played in a Final Four a year ago for the Cats. The Bears should provide a challenge, but the biggest thing that can stop Kentucky is themselves.
Thanks for having me around this weekend, it’s been fun. Visit us at KSRcollege.com and follow me on Twitter @wilmhoffKSR.