Basketball season starts tomorrow and all eyes will be on Kentucky and Duke on Tuesday evening. Here are five bold predictions as the Cats look to move to 1-0 and land a marquee win on day one:
1. The game won’t end until after midnight:
This really isn’t that bold of a prediction. The game is set for 9:30 p.m., but if history has taught us anything don’t expect to see the Cats and Blue Devils tipoff until after 10 p.m. Kansas and Michigan State get things started at 7 p.m. and there will be a 30-minute break between games. That ends up being closer to about a 35-minute break, but I have no faith in Kansas and Michigan State ending in a timely manner.
Make sure you sleep well tonight and maybe take a nap at lunch or after work. It’s going to be a late night and by the time the buzzer sounds for the final time in Tuesday’s game, it’s going to be Wednesday.
2. Zion is going to struggle:
No, Zion Williamson isn’t really fat. He’s really good. We all know that, but don’t expect him to have a big game tomorrow night. The Cats aren’t a great matchup for dunking phenom Williamson and I expect the bright lights to also hinder his performance. Kentucky will likely stick PJ Washington on Williamson and I like that matchup for the Cats. Williamson won’t be able to overpower Washington and the sophomore should be quick enough laterally to not be a liability. The Cats will likely play off Williamson and force him to shoot and while he’s improved his shot it’s still not his strength.
Where UK should worry about Zion is in transition and his offensive rebounding. UK will have to put a body on him the second a Duke player shoots.
I’m also not sure who Zion will guard, but the Cats will likely try to attack and get him in foul trouble.
3. Coach K gets a technical:
Coach K is going to get mad about a call or not getting a call and he’s going to do the Coach K special. He will get upset, stomp around, maybe throw out his back and end up begging for a technical. In the coaching world when a well-respected coach or a HOFer picks up a technical their team gets about 70 percent of the calls for the next five minutes. Of course I don’t have any stats to back that up, but just trust me.
Kentucky should be able to get Duke in foul trouble and the Blue Devil freshmen are going to be anxious. Coach K is going to do everything he can to have the officials in his pocket and if he has to sacrifice two points and the ball to get calls in crunch time you can expect him to do just that.
4. Quade will be a pleasant surprise:
Buy some Quade Green stock heading into tomorrow. No one is talking about him and I think this game sets up nicely for the sophomore point guard. Green, like the other point guards on UK’s roster, wasn’t great in the two exhibition games, but Duke is going to dare UK to shoot threes and Green will answer the call.
Green was a 37.6 percent three-point shooter last season and he should only improve on that number this year. Kentucky’s ability to spread the floor is a must to make life easier for PJ Washington and Reid Travis. Duke will key in on Tyler Herro, but Green has a great opportunity to shine. He should leave the shades at home but Green will be UK’s best guard on Tuesday.
5. Whoever hits more threes wins:
I’ve gone back-and-forth on my final prediction several times for tomorrow night and I expect this game to go down to the wire, but the team that hits more outside shots will leave Indy with a win.
Neither team will be a top 10 outside shooting team this season and it’s a big question mark for both groups heading into the season. Duke’s big three freshmen are insanely talented, but Cam Reddish is the only one who thrives from outside. R.J. Barrett and Williamson can hit outside shots but it’s not a strength.
We know Tyler Herro can light it up from deep, and I already predicted Green will hit a few outside shots, but can Immanuel Quickley help? Keldon Johnson has been streaky, so it will be interesting to see if he can knockdown open shots. PJ and Reid have added three-point shots to their arsenal and maybe they will stretch the floor.
The team that hits more triples will come out victorious.