Friday, December 12, 2014

Kentucky vs. North Carolina Pre-View

Now that you've had time to deal with and mourn the loss of Alex Poythress to a freak accident (torn ACL) in yesterdays practice, it's time to talk about tomorrows game.

North Carolina will invade Rupp Arena tomorrow afternoon looking to hand the Cats their first loss of the season. I haven't watched UNC very much this year, but I do understand that they have a pretty good inside game. The thing is, we have an excellent inside game and a pretty good outside game, so this one is tough to call to be honest. Before the loss of Alex, I would've told you that Kentucky would win this game in more than convincing fashion now, I'm not sure how it will turn out. 

Alex didn't bring a whole lot on the offensive end of things averaging just a little over 5 points per game, but what he brought on the defensive end will be hard to replace no matter who fills the void. Let's take a look at the options Cal has at his disposal...

One option is Derek Willis. Yes, it's true he can shoot, feed the post and blend in nicely on offense, but his lack of defensive ability is something that will rear it's ugly head in certain match-ups. There's no question Willis can play, hell, he's probably a starter at any other school, but until now, he wasn't going to see much playing time at Kentucky this season. Now, he can expect his minutes to go up as the season goes along.

Another option is filling Alex's spot with Devin Booker. With Booker you get the best of both worlds, sort of. He can flat out shoot the ball, create his own shot in the lane and find the open man when he can't get open. He plays above average defense, but he lacks the shot blocking ability that Poythress had. On paper, Booker would be the best option out of the two for that particular position. Yes there are other ways Calipari can handle the loss, but my guess is you will see a lot more playing time for these two young men in the coming months.

Let's take a look at what Kentucky will face tomorrow in Rupp...

Now, here's a look at the Tar Heel's Roster...

As you can see, UNC has some size that are putting up some very good numbers. It will be a test for Kentucky to say the least.

Here's some interesting facts about the Heel's when watching tomorrow's game...

Carolina is actually one of the few schools who have a winning record against the Cats. They lead the all-time series with a record of 23-13 which includes seven wins in the last ten meetings.

Roy Williams has piled up seven wins over number one ranked opponents during his career which is tied for the best in college basketball history with former Maryland coach, Gary Williams.

North Carolina has beaten the top ranked team in the AP Poll 13 times which is more than any other team in college basketball history.

Roy Williams has a career record of 8-7 against Kentucky, 7-4 while coaching at UNC and 1-3 when he coached at Kansas.

Carolina will be looking for their third win over a ranked team this season when they play Kentucky tomorrow. They have already beaten then ranked No. 22 UCLA and No. 18 Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas in late November.

Now, here's some facts about the Cats you may or may not know heading into tomorrows game...

Calipari is just one of two coaches in history (the other being Frank McGuire) to lead three different programs to a No. 1 ranking.

Cal is 72-9 (.889) as the top-ranked coach in the country.

Calipari is 31-4 when his team is at the top as UK's head coach.

Calipari has coached six of his last eight teams to the No. 1 ranking and this year makes the seventh time he's accomplished that feat.

Kentucky owns an all-time record of 188-27 (.874) as the nations top-ranked team. They have also won 28 of its last 30 contests as the AP's top team.

There, that should be enough information for you to occupy your brain until tomorrows showdown with UNC.

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