March Madness

Preview: 1 Kentucky vs. 16 Hampton

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#1 – Kentucky Wildcats

The Wildcats are not a perfect basketball team without flaws. However, they are incredibly talented, unbelievably unselfish and one of the most dominant defensive teams college basketball has ever seen and that’s why they have a legitimate chance of finishing the year with a perfect 40-0 record. It’s their play on the defensive end that helped them survive on the nights when their offensive wasn’t clicking on all cylinders for 40 minutes. They allow just 53.4 points a night on 35.1 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from distance. They also block nearly seven shots a game and get 6.8 steals on average. They won’t see a team that won’t be just flat out overwhelmed and outmatched by their defensive pressure until deep into the tournament. The same can be said for their frontline, which is stockpiled with future NBA players in Karl-Anthony Towns, a contender to go No. 1 in the 2015 Draft, Willie Cauley-Stein, a likely lottery pick, and fellow potential first-rounders in Trey Lyles and Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee (who plays sparingly but has pro talent as well and would be a big-time producer at just about any other program in the country). The Wildcats’ backcourt is not to be taken lightly either. Coach John Calipari has done a great job of getting the Harrison Twins to accept sharing time with talented freshmen Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker. Beating the Wildcats will require serious size up front, the ability to pressure their ball handlers and elite scorers who can create against their stout defense.

– Yannis Koutroupis

#16 – Hampton Pirates

The Pirates won four straight in the MEAC tournament to earn the right to dance. Having played numerous high-major teams early in the season, their 16-17 record is not an accurate assessment of their year. Guard Reggie Jackson (11.9ppg), who became eligible mid-year, emerged as the second leading scorer and spearheaded the tournament run. Dwight Meikle (13.0ppg, 7.6rpg) missed the last three games with a rolled ankle. His slashing style will be pivotal if Ed Joyner Jr. is going to win a potential play-in game. Their lack of ball movement (322nd apg) could have them in a high scoring blowout versus Kentucky. A matchup versus in state Virginia would make things more fun for the dedicated fan base. They will however have the #1 ranked band going into the first weekend and look for them to make TV early and often.

– Dan Barto

Who Wins?

Yannis Koutroupis: Kentucky wins

Cody Toppert: Kentucky wins

Dan Barto: Kentucky wins

Dan Barto has been with the IMG Academy basketball program since 2003. Prior to becoming the Head Skills Trainer, Barto was the IMG Academy basketball program’s Developmental Head Coach. Dan has trained over 100 current or former NBA players and coached over 40 Division I players. You can follow IMG on Twitter @IMGAcademy or on Facebook here.