In just a little white your Kentucky Wildcats will take to the floor in beautiful Moon Township, Pennsylvania (is it beautiful?) for the first game of the National Invitational Tournament. The Cats battle the 8th-seeded Colonials who are playing the biggest game in school history in a gym that holds just a little more than 3,000 people… For Kentucky, it’s one of the smallest events in a long time. It is safe to say this will be a humbling experience for Big Blue Nation and the team.
Here are a few quick hitters that you need to know before tip-off:
— Robert Morris scores 71.3 points per game (ranked 82nd nationally) but only shoots 43 percent (189th). The Colonials accomplish such a drastic gap between lackluster output and decent production by hoisting an absurd amount of three-pointers. Almost 23 per game, to be exact (15th).
— They do it for good reason, too. The Colonials don’t have a player taller than 6-8 on the roster that plays significant minutes. Inside post presence seems to be non-existent, which means they live and die by the three-ball.
— Robert Morris’ worst losses have come to Bryant (RPI No. 158), Savannah State (166), Quinnipiac (192), Central Connecticut State (199), and St. Francis (207). Its best wins would be over Ohio (67), and Mount St. Mary’s (121).
— Kentucky’s worst losses have come to Arkansas (RPI No. 95), Texas A&M (101), Vanderbilt (108), and Georgia (140). But has good wins over Florida (7), Missouri (36), and Maryland (56).
The game plan to beat the Colonials is simple: Close out on shooters and feed the ball in the paint to Willie Cauley-Stein, Kyle Wiltjer, and Alex Poythress. Kentucky should be able to score at will in the paint, and as long as the RMU shooters stay in check, this one should be in the bag.
A sign of things going downhill is poor transition defense leading to easy outside buckets, and a lack of awareness by the Cats on feeding the ball inside. The Colonials are going to make some shots, but if the Cats become lazy guarding the perimeter, that is where the three-ball will start to do serious damage. Same on the other end; becoming lazy and settling for jump shots on offense has the potential to kill the Cats. Keep pounding it inside and wear the Colonials down.