Representing the # 1 and # 5 seeds in the Midwest region, the 36-0 Kentucky Wildcats take on the 25-9 West Virginia Mountaineers. While Kentucky has breezed through the first two rounds with double digit victories in both games, the Mountaineers struggled against Buffalo before playing much better and beating Maryland in the second round. This will be the third time since 2010 these 2 teams have met in the tournament and they have split the previous two. This is the 11th
After struggling in their win against Buffalo, the Mountaineers rebounded nicely by playing a complete game on both sides of the ball in their win against Maryland on Saturday. Their defense caused the Terrapins to turn the ball over 23 times. This was the 16th time this year they have caused an opponent to have at least 20 turnovers while no other team in the country has done it even 10 times. Offensively they had 4 players in double digits led by forward Devin Williams who tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Gary Browne chipped in with 14 points but also had 5 steals. The 23 turnovers caused turned into 26 points for the Mountaineers.
Kentucky is trying to become the first team ever to go 40-0 and each time they advance the pressure grows. They have a deep team that plays very aggressively on both ends of the floor. Offensively they take the ball to the rim as evidenced by their 28 free throw attempts against Cincinnati. They are capable of winning even when they don’t play a good game. They shot poorly making only 20 out of 54 field goal attempts, they were out rebounded 43-35 yet the outcome was never in doubt. They only turned the ball over 7 times and their defense had 9 blocks and 7 steals. They had a balanced scoring effort as 5 players scored at least 9 points led by Aaron Harrison who scored 13. Defensively they held Cincinnati to 32% shooting for the game and a measly 24 % in the second half. The Bearcats had more fouls (22) than made field goals (20). Willie Cauley-Stein is a 7 footer who averages 2 blocks per game and alters countless other shots throughout the course of a game.
This is the 11th meeting between Kentucky coach John Calipari and WVU coach Bob Huggins with Huggins besting Calipari 8 out of those 10 games. They met in the tournament back in 2010 when Kentucky was also a # 1 seed and WVU scored the upset with a 73-66 team. Kentucky has been unbeatable all season but if any team can knock them off, it would be WVU. Kentucky has gone 18-5-3 against the spread this year while West Virginia has gone 19-13. The spread for this game is very high at 13.5 and the Mountaineers should be able to avoid the blowout.
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