Midwest Region - Second Round
(24-10, 12-6 SEC)
What You Need To Know: The Wildcats have been one of the disappointments in college basketball this season not because they haven't been successful but because they haven't been as successful as expected. UK is laden with talent, but John Calipari hasn't done a great job of getting everyone on the same page. Kentucky far too often plays like five individuals on the court instead of a team, but when the 'Cats come together, they are tough. Forward Julius Randle averages a double-double and is one of the more unstoppable players in college basketball. He's long, he's athletic and he's quick. James Young and the duo of Aaron and Andrew Harrison provide balance to the floor, and the Harrisons do a great job of distributing the ball on the break. Willie Cauley-Stein is experienced and can be a man on the boards, someone who benefits from all the attention that is paid to Randle. When UK can rebound and run, the Wildcats are in good shape. Against tough teams that control the tempo, however, Kentucky will struggle. If they get behind, the Wildcats run into issues thanks to a lack of shooters. The clean slate of the NCAA Tournament could be huge for UK.
Strengths: Rebounding, Blocked Shots, Field Goal Percentage Defense
Weaknesses: Steals, Turnovers, Shooting
(20-12, 10-8 Big 12)
Kansas State Wildcats
What You Need To Know: The Wildcats aren't blessed with great athleticism or shooters, but few teams play as hard as Bruce Weber's squad. They wear down opponents by simply being relentless, and effort is never an issue, never giving up easy baskets while forcing teams to work for everything. Marcus Foster is KSU's top scorer, and his versatility forces team to account for him on every possession. He can knock down the long jumper or drive to the bucket, and he's just a good enough passer to keep teams honest. Thomas Gipson is a banger inside at 6-7, 265 pounds, and his strength allows him to get to balls that others might miss. Will Sprading and Shane Southwell both bring just enough scoring to the floor to keep opponents scrambling on defense.
Strengths: Assists, Field Goal Defense, Assist-Turnover Ratio
Weaknesses: Blocked Shots, Three Point Shooting, Free Throws