The winner of this BBN Jam matchup earns the right to take on Rick Pitino’s Untouchables from 1996 in the Elite Eight. Will it be a pair of their talented teammates, or the lengthy upperclassmen from John Calipari’s 2015 team that finished 38-1?
Before you compare stats, there are a few things to consider. Even though Willie Cauley-Stein was National Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus First Team All-American, like Andrew Harrison and every other player on that team, it was not his most productive season as a Wildcat, thanks to the platoon system. They’re going up against the junior versions of Walter McCarty and Tony Delk, a year before Delk was a consensus First Team All-American. The 1995 Wildcats finished one game short of a Final Four, falling to North Carolina in the Southeast Regional Final.
TALE OF THE TAPE
If you value shooting more than anything when deciding these matchups, this really shouldn’t be a difficult decision. Tony Delk and Walter McCarty both can stroke it from long range. The question is, how many shots could they get off against the 2015 team’s length?
Harrison’s three-point numbers (38.3%) probably surprise you. As you’ll recall, the point guard was not a great finisher around the rim until his sophomore season, carrying the Wildcats when adversity struck throughout the year. His physicality on defense could disrupt Delk’s rhythm, while Cauley-Stein would force McCarty to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, instead of shooting an easy set-shot from the corner.
As I talk myself into the offensive prowess of the ’95 squad, I talk myself back into what the blue squad from ’15 brings to the table defensively. It’s a tough decision, but somebody’s got to make it — might as well be you.