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Who Needs to Win Their Matchups in Kentucky’s Biggest Games?

From a google search for “mano a mano.” I can’t not use this picture.

Basketball, unlike many other team sports, can sometimes come down to my best player against your best player.  (See: LeBron James in the Olympics, NBA Finals.)  The NBA Jam, “mano a mano” mentality doesn’t necessarily keep players from being good teammates, so long as they recognize that the team needs them to challenge, stretch, and exploit their counterparts.  In fact, Cal’s dribble-drive motion encourages guys taking their man one-on-one; if you can beat him, beat him.  With a balanced team like Kentucky has, anyone could step up and be the difference-maker in big games.

So as we look forward to this season, what are some one-on-one matchups that could sway Kentucky’s most anticipated games?  This isn’t simply a question of “who is the best player on the floor?” but rather “who can best win the game by simply beating their man?”  So let’s look at a few exciting pairings, and consider what we can expect from them when they finally get here.


Duke: Nerlens Noel vs. That ****ing Plumlee

Destroy him.  Please.  I don’t even know which one it is any more (Miles? Mason? Marshall?), but I can’t stand any of them.  Bottom line, one of them is still around, and we have the opportunity to make him cry.  Nerlens has the ability, on the defensive end, to make anyone’s life miserable.  Noel doesn’t even have to score to win this matchup, which is good considering that this early in the season, offense may be hard to come by for the freshman.  That said, the Noel/Plumlee matchup could be early-season gold.  I won’t be happy with anything less than Plumlee tears.  They make me strong.

Louisville: Alex Poythress vs. Wayne Blackshear

Your first instinct might be to focus on either Ryan Harrow against Peyton Siva, or Nerlens Noel on Gorgui Dieng.  But those are fairly known quantities, and while they’ll be good, even great matchups, they’ll probably break even more than break open.  The Poythress/Blackshear combo seems a lot more exciting, with a lot more potential for abuse.  Both guys are young and crazy athletic, and either of them have the potential to lead their team in scoring by the time this game rolls around.  While Cal and Pitino both love defense, expect this game to be a coming-out show for one of the two on offense.  The Louisville game has a way of making stars out of starters.  This could be a huge one for Alex.

Baylor: Coach Cal vs. Scott Drew

Scott Drew is what everyone wants Cal to be: a hyper-talented recruiter with little game-coaching ability who flirts with success but ultimately flounders in the Elite Eight.  Drew’s Baylor team last year had an abundance of talent, but was absolutely hammered by Cal’s smoothly-operating Big Blue Machine in the contest to get to the Final Four.  What started as a worrier ended as a laugher; thank Cal’s coaching for that one.  Now, the two teams are both drastically different after being ravaged by the NBA draft.  Being able to fight the hangover the season after is a responsibility falling squarely on the coaches’ shoulders.  This game should showcase who’s more up to the task.

Florida: Archie Goodwin vs. Kenny Boynton

Hard to think that Boynton is a senior this year for the Gators, who will have their hands full trying to replace Bradley Beal and, to a lesser degree, Erving Walker.  Boynton is going to have absolute control of that backcourt, and it will be up to Archie to stop him on the defensive end.  Both have the potential to light it up, so this one may take an unexpected turn into a struggle on the defensive end.  For this battle of shooting guards, it may come down to who can get more stops.  Goodwin needs an opportunity like this to show he can be a defensive monster in addition to a capable scorer.  Let’s hope Archie has a little DeAndre Liggins in him.

Missouri: UK Fans vs. Digger Phelps

This should be fun.

Article written by Corey Nichols

13 Comments for Who Needs to Win Their Matchups in Kentucky’s Biggest Games?

  1. Dickie Z
    9:06 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    This is a mediocre post, which is an improvement from your normal flaming pile of dog shit posts. Keep up the mediocre work, Corey!

  2. Will S
    9:07 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    UNC Scandal–

    Noel vs. Plumlee is one heckuva matchup. Like Corey stated, not expecting much offense from Noel but he’ll be a great early season defensive test for Plumlee. I think this game will come down to who hits shot. Early season, neutral site, huge arena, crazy atmosphere…. I still think experience/depth will be key for a Duke win. Should be a great game.

  3. Nathan
    9:20 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    I have been a faithful reader for the past 5 years, and I will say that your writing makes BTI look like a pulitzer prize author. It must be awful writing positive things about Kentucky and even Kentucky fans can’t stomach to read or make sense of your 2nd grade basketball knowledge.

  4. king cat
    9:27 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    I wish all I had to do first thing everyday is to get up and read corey’s post and give my humble opinion about how awful he is. Come on people, get a life!

  5. Dickie Z
    9:37 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    #4 – By 9AM I have probably done more than you will do all day. I have a life, it just happens to include commenting on KSR, specifically Corey’s turrible posts.

  6. my azz
    9:50 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    #5 – Ok yappie, let’s hear all the stuff you get done by 9am. This should be entertaining!

  7. Mike
    10:10 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    UK fans probably shouldn’t start booing Digger at Gameday. Yea, his little speech at Vandy was douchey, but it would reflect badly on us if we started giving him hell on TV.

  8. tom
    10:17 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    7. Agree 100% Mike. But, sadly, I doubt it will happen.

  9. Rock Slyde
    10:18 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t have a life. Corey, another simple post. Please write about a topic in your field of expertise like superheroes and villains.

  10. HicksPickSix
    10:28 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    You had all weekend to cook up ideas for a post, and this is the best you came up with?

  11. Will Totten
    10:53 am August 20, 2012 Permalink

    It’s amazing how you all can be so mad at the beginning of the day, do you wake up angry?

  12. Smiffanator
    12:20 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    #5 Sounds like Dickie Z has his panties all in wad this morning

  13. ukfan
    12:21 pm August 20, 2012 Permalink

    Is there a chance that Digger won’t make the trip to Lexington? I mean seriously, the cranky old man has to know what’s waiting for him if he shows up. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit to see him pull a Bobby Knight and not show up. I actually bet he doesn’t.