Davidson vs Kentucky Preview and Prediction
Davidson vs Kentucky Preview
A battle of the Wildcats will take place in Boise, Idaho on Thursday night.
Davidson ran through the Atlantic 10 conference tournament to earn their bid to the Big Dance. Without that run, the Wildcats would be on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament.
Davidson coming in hot
The Wildcats won eight of their last nine games on the way to beating Rhode Island for the A-10 tournament title and a spot in the fun. Peyton Aldridge is the scoring star of the show averaging almost 22 points and eight boards per game, but freshman Kellan Grady is a big-time scorer, too.
Davidson is willing and eager to share the ball, they are No. 1 in the nation in assist-turnover ratio. Always looking for the open man, this has allowed the Wildcats to be one of the top three-point shooting teams in the country, ranking 10th nationally in made threes per game (10.7), 24th in three-point attempts per game (27.3) and 28th in three-point percentage (39.1).
“My guess is they’re going to shoot 30 threes, maybe more. It’s how they play,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said during an appearance on the SEC Network Sunday night. “When you play a team like that, they can move back and back and back. You can’t cover them out there and if they’re making them, you lose. It’s just how it is. It’s a dangerous team, they run good study. Matter of fact, they run a lot of the same stuff that Tennessee runs so at least we know it a little bit.”
Kentucky, meanwhile, is one of the best teams in the country at defending the three, holding teams to 29.9 percent from beyond the arc, which ranks fifth nationally. The Wildcats’ overall field goal percentage defense ranks 22nd, limiting teams to 40.6 percent shooting.
Kentucky, SEC champs
Kentucky enters the NCAA Tournament fresh off an 77-72 win over No. 13/12 Tennessee (25-8) to seize the SEC Tournament championship. The tournament title was UK’s sixth under John Calipari and fourth straight. The Wildcats (24-10) have won seven of their last eight games entering the NCAA Tournament, with four of those seven wins coming against teams that were ranked or receiving votes in the national listings.
UK is 46-10 in tournament openers and has won 23 of its last 24 opening-round tournament games. UK owns a 124-50 record all-time in NCAA action, with its .712 winning percentage the fifth-best in NCAA history. This is the fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the Wildcats.
The Kentucky Wildcats deploy a four-headed freshman monster, all averaging more than double figures.
Kevin Knox: 15.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 13.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.0 APG
PJ Washington: 10.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.6 APG
Hamidou Diallo: 10.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.3 APG
The 5 vs 12 matchup always amounts to at least one upset, but I do not believe this is one of them. Davidson needed a miracle run to even make the Tourney and I believe they are over-seeded as a 12-seed. Their resume is worse than a 13-seeded Buffalo squad who plays 4th-seeded Arizona.
Davidson loves to shoot it from deep, but Kentucky is one of the best teams in the country at protecting the three-point line, holding teams under 30 percent for the season. That defense will be stiffling to Davidson’s shooters.
Lay the points and watch Kentucky win by double-digits.
Kentucky 83 Davidson 71