By Luke Geraghty
Ever since selection Sunday, fans around Kentuckiana have been wondering if a rematch between UK and IU will take place in the Sweet 16. This past weekend, both the Cats and the Hoosiers won their their round games to help advance to the Sweet 16. The rivalry between UK and IU had been down for a few years since IU was rebuilding. However, when IU beat UK on a last second three pointer in December, the rivalry is as intense as ever.
Both UK and IU came into the NCAA tournament with not a lot of momentum after both teams lost in their conference tournaments. However, both teams have fought back to win their first two games of the tournament. UK beat Western Kentucky and Iowa State quite easily. IU beat New Mexico State handily, but saw themselves in a much tougher battle with Virginia Commonwealth. Nevertheless, getting a win in the NCAA Tournament is crucial no matter what the margin is. In order to get a win, both teams will have to play their best.
For UK, the key to getting a win will rest on their front court. The size and strength of UK’s front court makes them the most talented in the country. Freshman Anthony Davis may go down as the best freshman to ever play at UK. His ability to block shots makes it extremely difficult for any player to get a shot off against him.
Sophomore Terrence Jones joins Davis in the front court. Jones is a great all around player who could have been a lottery pick had he declared for the draft last year. Keep him off the offensive glass will be a tough task for the Hoosiers.
In order for UK to win, they will need to keep Davis and Jones out of foul trouble. In their previous meeting, Davis had been in foul trouble which made his minutes limited. This was probably the biggest factor in that game. Also in that game, Jones had trouble scoring and rebounding. It was one of his worst games while playing at UK. If UK can get them going, and get some contributions from their backcourt, UK will find themselves in the Elite Eight.
For IU, getting another win against UK will be very difficult. However, if IU uses a similar game plan like they did in the first meeting, they have a shot.
Getting Davis in foul trouble will be critical for the Hoosiers. Freshman Cody Zeller may not be able to score on Davis, but if he can draw fouls on Davis, that will be a victory in itself. They will also need to pray that Jones has a similar game as he did before. IU will also need a contribution from their perimeter players. IU has was it takes to get hot from three-point range, but UK has been known to be a stingy team when guarding the perimeter. This is probably the most important area for the Hoosiers in this game.
Getting to the Sweet 16 has been a great accomplishment for the Hoosiers. IU has the better coach in Tom Crean and a lot of great players, but UK is more talented. If Davis and Jones stay out of foul trouble, then UK is almost unbeatable against any team. UK will get off to a strong start and will hold off the Hoosiers 78-68