There’s no rest for the Wildcats. Now that Hofstra is in the rearview, the boys will return to Lexington just in time for final exams. Then it’s full steam ahead to Vegas, baby, where a top 10 showdown with North Carolina awaits. National pundits continue to be very high on the Tar Heels, and for good reason; they’re experienced and deep with a solid cast of playmakers. Here are a few matchups that should make for a very entertaining shootout in Sin City:
Kennedy Meeks vs. Bam Adebayo
If you were following college basketball recruiting in 2013, you might recall a somewhat rotund power forward named Kennedy Meeks making some waves on the high school scene. Well, 4 seasons later, that kid has developed into the current ACC leader in career rebounds, with some pretty stellar post skills to boot. He is effectively averaging a double-double, and could be a key if Carolina wants to make a deep March run.
Contrast that with Bam, who is basically the blueprint of how you want a power forward to be built coming into college. The Dwight Howard comparisons just won’t stop, and while his finesse on the block is still developing, he more than makes up for that with power and athleticism.
Experience and growth takes on raw physicality in this matchup.
Joel Berry II vs. De’Aaron Fox
De’Aaron will have his hands full with last season’s ACC Championship MVP. Berry hasn’t missed a step this year, and has deftly filled the backcourt leadership gap left behind by Marcus Paige.
Similarly, Fox has stepped into the Tyler Ulis role of pesky point guard defender for the Cats. This could also be said for Isaiah Briscoe, who is a lockdown defender in his own right, but the minutes Fox sees in this matchup will be yet another big freshman test for him in a non-conference schedule that has been, and continues to be, full of them.
It’s worth noting, however, that Berry missed UNC’s matchup with Davidson last week and their game against Tennessee today with a sprained ankle. Hopefully he makes it back for the Vegas meeting; wouldn’t want any Tar Heel fans making excuses, would we?
Justin Jackson vs. ???
So, Jackson is gonna see several different defenders this Saturday, and it’s hard to say which one is gonna fit the bill the best. At 6’8″, 210 lbs., Jackson probably matches up best physically with the likes of Derek Willis and Wenyen Gabriel, but at times, we’re sure to see him taking on Bam, and maybe even Fox or Malik Monk.
UK doesn’t really have, nor have they had for a few years, a dedicated wing defender. The Cats switch enough on the defensive end that it usually doesn’t matter. Nonetheless, it makes me miss MKG just a little bit.
Buckle in, BBN. These teams both love to run. This should be a fun one.
UPDATE: Currently, UNC is in upset alert mode against Tennessee, down 8 at the half, if you wanna check that out.