Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 11/19/14

With the final set of “Third Round” games finishing up Sunday night, it’s time for the Sweet 16. As we do every year, we will have in-depth previews of each Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchup this weekend.

In this post, we preview the South Region Sweet 16 matchup, which is a rematch of this season’s most memorable and oft-replayed games: the 4th seeded Indiana Hoosiers against prohibitive tournament favorite, #1 overall seed Kentucky.

Indiana-Kentucky Sweet 16 Game Info
  • Seeds & Region: #4 Indiana v #1 Kentucky in South Region
  • Syracuse-Wisconsin Date: Friday, 3/23
  • Syracuse-Wisconsin Tip Time: TBA
  • Syracuse-Wisconsin Location: Atlanta
  • Syracuse-Wisconsin TV: TBA
  • Syracuse-Wisconsin Announcers: TBA
  • Syracuse-Wisconsin Point Spread: Kentucky -9
  • Tickets: South Regional Tickets in Atlanta
Indiana-Kentucky Analysis and Prediction

Kentucky’s players have talked openly about wanting a chance to avenge their December loss to Indiana, and now they will get their chance.

The Wildcats used an impressive second half performance and 10-of-20 shooting from long range to beat Iowa State by 16 points.  Freshman guard Marquis Teague led the team with 24 points and seven assists, while Anthony Davis posted yet another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

The Hoosiers turned the ball over 22 times against VCU’s intense pressure, but they held the Rams to just four points over the final 12:19, with Will Sheehey’s jumper with 12.7 seconds serving as the game-winner.  Cody Zeller had 16 points and 13 rebounds for IU, while Christian Watford scored 16 of his own, including the final eight points of the first half to trim a nine-point lead down to one.

While much will be made of the first matchup between these teams and the exciting conclusion to the game, both squads are very different teams this time around.  The Hoosiers will be without Verdell Jones III, who scored eight points and assisted on the game-winning basket, but they also have a different look on offense with Victor Oladipo playing point guard.  Derek Elston, Matt Roth, and Remy Abell didn’t play at all in the first meeting, but each one will play a key role off the bench for IU this time around.  For Kentucky, there are no real personnel changes, but Anthony Davis and Marquis Teague have both improved and matured quite a bit since December.

For the Hoosiers, they have to find a way to slow down Kentucky’s offense, which was firing on all cylinders against Iowa State.  For the year, the Wildcats rank second in offensive efficiency and are in the Top 20 in effective field goal percentage, turnover rate, and offensive rebounding percentage.  They also boast a 40.1 free throw rate, so there certainly isn’t a glaring weakness on that end of the floor.

Indiana has improved defensively down the stretch and has held five of its last eight opponents to 0.95 points per possession or less with only one team scoring more than 1.06 ppp.  Still, they have to get a body on Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, all of whom have an offensive rebounding percentage of at least 10 percent.  Since the Wildcats shoot nearly 53 percent inside the arc, Zeller and the Hoosiers will be challenged to limit Kentucky’s two-point shooting.  Finally, the Hoosiers will need to stay close to Doron Lamb on the perimeter, as the sophomore sharpshooters is hitting 47 percent from deep.

On the other end, it should be a fantastic matchup between Indiana’s offense, which ranks fourth in efficiency, and Kentucky’s defense, which ranks 10th on defense.  Despite the fact that the Wildcats rank just inside the Top 300 in turnover rate, Indiana still has to focus on taking care of the basketball.  While VCU’s pressure certainly played a role in IU’s 22-turnover performance on Saturday, many of the errors were unforced, and the Hoosiers cannot afford to give possessions away.

Outside of that, the matchups are relatively even on that end of the floor.  The Hoosiers rank seventh in effective field goal percentage, second in three-point shooting, and just inside the Top 50 on two-pointers, while the Wildcats are first in effective field goal percentage and two-point defense and just outside the Top 50 against three-pointers.  Indiana hit 9-of-15 from long range in the first meeting, and while they can’t abandon dumping it inside to Cody Zeller just because of Davis’ shot-blocking prowess, the Hoosiers will need a balanced attack to extend Kentucky’s defense.

In terms of free throw rate, the Hoosiers rank 12th at 45.2, but Kentucky allows a paltry 26.0 free throw rate against its defense.  Again, Davis’ presence will certainly be intimidating, but Oladipo’s aggressiveness at driving the lane has been critical to IU’s play down the stretch so it’s a matter of wisely choosing his spots.  Zeller’s presence in the post will also be key if the Hoosiers want to get Kentucky in foul trouble.

Finally, the Hoosiers may have a slight advantage on the offensive glass.  For the year, they rank 62nd in offensive rebounding percentage at 35.3, while the Wildcats are 87th in defensive rebounding percentage at 30.2.  Indiana grabbed 12 offensive boards in the first meeting, led by five from Zeller.  Second chance points could certainly be an equalizer against a talented Kentucky team.

One of the keys in the first meeting was the fact that Anthony Davis got into foul trouble.  While I think he has matured over the course of the season in that regard, Zeller presents an interesting matchup based on his quickness.  The Hoosiers will also try to pull Davis away from the basket in pick-and-roll situations in the hopes of opening up the lane.  Terrence Jones was a no-show in the first matchup, but he’s played well of late, so I wouldn’t expect a repeat performance there.  And while Teague struggled at times in the December matchup, he’s coming off of arguably his best game of the season.

This will undoubtedly be an emotional game between two rivals, as the Wildcats will be out for revenge while the Hoosiers will look to prove that the first time around was no fluke.  Ultimately, there’s no real pressure on the Hoosiers here, so they should be able to come out and play loose.  For Kentucky, they already have pressure as the favorite to cut down the nets, and they have certainly handled it well thus far.

On paper, the Wildcats look like the team to beat in this game as well as the tournament as a whole.  They have a team full of talented impact players led by Player of the Year candidate Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who I believe may be Kentucky’s most important player of all.  Revenge factor or not, I expect Kentucky to march on to the Elite Eight, but I caution those who think this will be a blowout.  The Hoosiers have proven to be a resilient bunch that has risen to a variety of challenges this year, so while I think Kentucky will win, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Indiana spring the upset.

Predicted Winner: Kentucky

Chrstian Watford rises to fire the game-winning against Kentucky in December.


Indiana Hoosiers Team Capsule
  • Conference: Big Ten
  • Record: 25-8 (11-7 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 8-2
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 8-5
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue (2)
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin (2)
  • Player to Watch: Cody Zeller (6’11” F, Fr.) – 15.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.3 spg, 1.2 bpg, 62.6 FG%

Indiana Bottoms Line:

Apparently the rebuilding process for the Hoosiers is a year ahead of schedule, as this year’s squad went undefeated in the non-conference and picked up a number of high quality wins.  One big reason for their substantial improvement is the play of freshman phenom Cody Zeller, who leads the Hoosiers in scoring and rebounding.  His ability to run the floor puts pressure on opposing defenses, and he has been even more impressive than IU fans had hoped.

Three other Hoosiers score in double figures, including juniors Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls.  Watford has been inconsistent over the course of his career, but he has posted double-doubles in three of the last four games.  Hulls is shooting over 49 percent from long range and makes nearly 90 percent from the line.  The turning point for IU came when sophomore Victor Oladipo slid over the point.  His aggressiveness on both ends of the floor has provided a spark for the Hoosiers.  A number of bench players have contributed as well, but IU will be without senior Verdell Jones III, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Big Ten Tournament.

The Hoosiers are in the Top Five in offensive efficiency, led by Top 10 rankings in three-point shooting, effective field goal percentage, and free throw rate, which is critical since they shoot over 76 percent from the line.  Indiana has struggled on defense though and ranks outside of the Top 100 in all four factors.  They will need to rely on outscoring teams to win in the tournament, but they have to put up more resistance on defense to make a deep run.

Kentucky Wildcats Team Capsule
  • Conference: SEC
  • Record: 32-2 (16-0 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 9-1
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 11-2
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Alabama, Florida (3), Kansas, Lamar, Louisville, Loyola (MD), North Carolina, Vanderbilt (2)
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Indiana, Vanderbilt
  • Player to Watch: Anthony Davis (6’11″ F, Fr.) – 14.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 4.6 bpg, 1.4 spg, 64.3 FG%

Kentucky Bottoms Line:

The Wildcats earned the overall top seed and will be picked by most pundits to win it all – and rightfully so.  Kentucky finished in the Top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency and steamrolled all comers in the SEC.  On offense, the Wildcats are in the Top 25 in two-point shooting, turnover rate, and offensive rebounding percentage and have a number of offensive weapons.

In all, six players score at least 9.4 points per game, led by freshman phenom Anthony Davis who is a strong candidate for National Player of the Year.  He averaged a double-double and shoots a high percentage, but his shot-blocking ability is a game-changer on the defensive end.  Fellow frosh Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a fiery, do-it-all competitor who will do whatever it takes to win.  Sophomore Terrence Jones gives the Wildcats yet another talented frontcourt player, and if he brings his A-game, look out.  The backcourt features freshman Marquis Teague, who has really improved at the point over the course of the season, and lights out shooter Doron Lamb, who hits over 45 percent from beyond the arc.

For all the discussion about Kentucky’s weapons on offense, they are just as impressive on defense.  They boast the top-ranked block percentage, two-point defense, and effective field goal percentage defense to go with a Top 10 opponents’ free throw rate.


South Region Bracket, TV Schedule, Sites, Announcers, Point Spreads Game Matchup Date Time Location Announcers TV Spread   FIRST ROUND               Western Kentucky def Miss Val St. 59-58 Tue, 3/13 6:40 ET Dayton Nantz-Kellogg-Kerr truTV WKU -4.5                   SECOND ROUND             1 #1 Kentucky def #16 Western Kentucky 81-66 Thu, 3/15 6:50 ET Louisville Lundquist-Raftery TBS UK -24.5 2 #8 Iowa State def #9 UConn 77-64 Thu, 3/15 9:15 ET Louisville Lundquist-Raftery TBS CON -2                 3 #4 Indiana def #13 New Mexico State 79-66 Thu, 3/15 9:40 ET Portland Anderson-Bonner CBS IU -6.5 4 #12 VCU def #5 Wichita State 62-59 Thu, 3/15 7:15 ET Portland Anderson-Bonner CBS WICH -6                 5 #15 Lehigh def #2 Duke 75-70 Fri, 3/16 7:15 ET Greensboro Nantz-Kellogg TBS DUKE -12 6 #10 Xavier def #7 Notre Dame 67-63 Fri, 3/16 9:40 ET Greensboro Nantz-Kellogg TBS ND -2.5                 7 #3 Baylor def #14 South Dakota State 68-60 Thu, 3/15 7:27 ET Albuquerque Dedes-Wenzel truTV BAY -8 8 #11 Colorado def #6 UNLV 68-64 Thu, 3/15 9:52 ET Albuquerque Dedes-Wenzel truTV UNLV -5                                   THIRD ROUND             9 #1 Kentucky def #8 Iowa State 87-71 Sat, 3/17 7:45 ET Louisville Lundquist-Raftery CBS UK -11.5 10 #4 Indiana def #12 VCU 63-61 Sat, 3/17 7:10 ET Portland Anderson-Bonner TBS IU -6                 11 #10 Xavier v #15 Lehigh Sun, 3/18 7:45 ET Greensboro Nantz-Kellogg truTV   12 #3 Baylor def #11 Colorado 80-63 Sat, 3/17 8:40 ET Albuquerque Dedes-Wenzel TNT BAY -7.5                   SWEET 16             13 #1 Kentucky v #4 Indiana Fri, 3/23   Atlanta       14 #3 Baylor v Game 12 Winner Fri, 3/23   Atlanta                         ELITE 8 - REGIONAL FINAL             15 Game 13 Winner v Game 14 Winner Sun, 3/25   Atlanta      

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