When Kentucky and North Carolina tip off in around 15 hours, it will be a battle between the two most talented teams in college basketball. It will also be a collection of some very intriguing individual matchups, and how those head-to-head contests play out will be the major determining factor in who wins the game. CBS’s Jeff ‘Borzello of Blood’ broke down all of the big individual matchups in tomorrow’s clash of the titans, and here are a few of the most important ones to watch along with who he’s giving the edge to:
POINT GUARD: Kendall Marshall vs. Marquis Teague
Two completely different point guards, both extremely talented in their own right. Marshall ranks second in the country in assists, notching at least 14 assists in three different games. The lefty doesn’t push the ball like a classic UNC point guard, but he moves the ball in transition with the pass. Teague is very quick and athletic, but he’s still adjusting to life as a college point guard. He has been taking care of the ball far better lately, but he can still improve his decision-making. EDGE: North Carolina
It’s usually the case that the point guard matchup goes a long way toward deciding the outcome of a game, and that will definitely be the case tomorrow. If the good Marquis Teague shows up and can play Marshall to a push, the Cats will be in good shape. If Marshall dominates the battle and dictates the game it will be tough for Kentucky to overcome.
SMALL FORWARD: Harrison Barnes vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Both were No. 1 high school prospects at some point in their career, and actually matched up as top prospects at the NBA Camp in 2009. Barnes has started better this season than he did last year, making a killing in the mid-range and also knocking down outside jumpers. Kidd-Gilchrist is a do-it-all player who makes things happen at both ends of the floor. He’s a very good defender who uses his strength go get to the rim as well. EDGE: North Carolina
I absolutely can’t wait for this one. With the Davis/Henson matchup taking a lot of the pub leading up to Saturday, this one featuring two evenly matched yet very different wings may actually be the best of the day. Barnes is a great scorer, but Kidd-Gilchrist is the kind of athlete that can make life extremely difficult for him. To preview the matchup, ESPN’s Dave Telep looked back at the showdown between the two at the 2009 NBA Camp, in which Gilchrist slightly got the better of the older Barnes, a trend that hopefully continues tomorrow.
CENTER: John Henson vs. Anthony Davis
This is going to be fun. Two of the most athletic, longest big men in the country will go head-to-head with someone who can match up evenly. Henson is a tremendous shot-blocker, and is also a double-double threat every night out. He’s improved his offensive ability this season. Davis is the best freshman in the country and the sure-fire No. 1 pick for the NBA Draft. He’s an unbelievable shot-blocker as well, and uses his athleticism to make things difficult for opponents. He’s also excellent in transition, running the floor extremely well. EDGE: Kentucky
And finally the one everyone is looking forward to. Davis is the talk of college basketball after his performance against St. John’s, and Henson is basically the same guy that people have been waiting for the last three years to break out. Henson won’t be able to outmuscle Davis, or anyone, ever, and he doesn’t have the same length advantage over Kentucky’s freshman that he has on basically everyone else, so this is a matchup that Davis can potentially own. He can do anything Henson can do, but is more athletic, more versatile and plays with more energy. With the exception of the point guards, the extent to which Kentucky can win this matchup will tell a lot of the story tomorrow afternoon. For the rest of the breakdown of the individual battles you can check out the full article at CBS.
It’s hard to believe that we’re just one night’s sleep away from the game we’ve been looking forward to for what seems like forever. It can’t get here soon enough.