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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Breakdown No One Who Reads This Blog Cares About: Kentucky vs. Creighton

Well, tonight is the night. I get to witness 16,000 Creighton fans have their little Bluejay hearts broken IN PERSON! The University of Kentucky Basketball Wildcats are in town ready to do battle with the Creighton Bluejays.

It actually could be a interesting game. I know the opening line had Creighton actually favored by 3.

Let's start with a breakdown of the starters and bench...

PG: Josh Doltzer (3.1 PPG) vs. Michael Porter (4.0 PPG). Ugg. This matchup SUCKS. Porter, whether fairly or unfairly, has been on the receiving end of a whole lot of blame as to why Kentucky is playing in the NIT as opposed to the NCAA's. The problem is that the guy is not a point guard. He is the type of player that...well, that shouldn't be playing at UK, frankly. In fact, I would say he is the type of recruit that embodies why UK fans were fed up with Tubby Smith. He can hit an open three from time to time, and he absolutely plays his ass off. He was also recruited by Pete Carroll to play cornerback, and played at the same high school as UK favorite and Houston Rocket Chuck Hayes. In other words, this is about all I can say about the guy...not good.

As for Doltzer, you can say a lot of the same things. The difference being that he runs an offense alot better than Porter.

Advantage: Creighton

SG: Booker Woodfox (15.7 PPG) vs. Jodie Meeks (24.0 PPG). Booker is the nation's second-leading 3-point shooter this season. He really explodes into his jump shot, and it is a thing of beauty to watch when he is on. Booker is usually Creighton's advantage any game they go into.

That said, Booker usually doesn't line up against 2nd Team All-Americans. Jodie Meeks is an explosive player that is constantly active on offense (think Rip Hamilton). He is equally effective slashing to the hoop as he is hitting his outside jump shot. Not to mention he is a relentless defender and has a solid 3 inches on Woodfox. Oh, and he owns Kentucky's single-game scoring record. I think he scored under 20 points in only 3 games this season.

Advantage: Kentucky

Wing: P'Allen Stinnett (12.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG) vs. Razor Ramon Harris (5.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG). Normally, I love P. As Pete always says, "P is a wild horse that cannot be broken." And on paper, this matchup probably favors Creighton.

With that said, I'll pull the Corso and say "not so fast, my friends!" There are two reasons why I believe this could be--COULD--an advantage for UK. Razor is a very good defender who busts his ass every play on both sides of the court. P'Allen is, needless to say, the opposite of this. The other thing to consider is that P sometimes plays with his eyes bigger than his stomach...and this is the biggest matchup Creighton has had since at least the early 1980's. So it very well could be a situation where P tries to do too much and gets not only himself out of rhythm, but the whole team.

Advantage: Push, leaning towards Creighton.

Wing: Justin Carter (8.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG) vs. Perry Stevenson (7.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG). This is a tough one to call. UK's Stevenson has 5 inches on Carter. But, Carter will play quck and move around a lot, whereas Stevenson sometimes has a tendency to disappear from games. However, when he's involved, he plays good defense (and can block the hell out of some shots). Not to mention he can hit the 15-footer, plus usually has a ferocious dunk or two every game.

In other words, this is a post player vs. a wing player. If I'm Dana Altman, I'm doing everything I can to exploit this matchup. That said, same with Billy Gillispie.

Advantage: Kentucky, barely.

Center: Kenny Lawson (8.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG) vs. Patrick Patterson (18.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG). According to Creighton's media notes, Lawson is the MVC shot block leader, while Patterson was "HS teammate of OJ Mayo."

Here's what Creighton's media department left out for Patterson: 5 Star recruit, McDonald's All-American 1st Team All-SEC (2nd Team as a frosh), Co-SEC Freshman of the Year, All-American candidate, and currently on the NBA Lottery bubble according to many outlets. Oh, and he averaged 22.3 PPG after coming back from a early/mid-season ankle injury.

Kenny Lawson...well, Kenny has 10 pounds on Patterson, and gets winded 3 minutes into games. Patterson averages 34 minutes a game.

Advantage: Uh, I'm pretty sure that's Kentucky.

Bench: There's no question that Kentucky's bench is more athletic than Creighton's. UK has a freshman 6th Man named Darius Miller who is going to be a very good player, and has really come into his own over the past month. He can hit the outside shot, plus is very good at breaking down a zone defense with his pull-up 15-footer. He will spell Ramon Harris.

Creighton, on the other hand, has been using mass substitutions for a while now, with Altman replacing his starting 5 sometime around the 15 minute mark of the first half. That group is highlighted by Antoine Young. In fact, Young could be the key to this game. He is precisely the type of player that has killed UK this season, meaning a slashing point guard who can also hit an outside shot. If Dana is smart, he will play Young early and often.

That said, there's really no one else off Creighton's bench that overwhelms me.

Advantage: Creighton, if only because they play more people. Gillispie is known for a 7- or 8-man rotation.

Coaching: Dana Altman vs. Billy Gillispie. Hmm. Well, Dana Altman is the king of the MVC hill. He's a great coach. However, we've seen what he can do in a major conference (hello, Kansas State!). Billy Gillispie is widely considered a great coach, has 4 different "Coach of the Year" awards. However, we find him in a spot where he is probably not going to be the head coach of Kentucky next season. However, that has more to do with off-the-court issues. And to be quite honest, some of his coaching decisions this year have left me hurling profanities at the television screen.

Advantage: Meh. I don't know that it will matter that much in this game.

Overall: Athletically, Kentucky should be able to shut down Creighton. While doing a position-by-position comparison makes it appear to be a close matchup, Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson are such overwhelming advantages that it skews the entire deal.

That said, Kentucky has struggled with teams who can get hot from the outside. Creighton fits into this category, although their past two games would not give me much confidence if I'm a Creighton fan. If Kentucky takes care of the ball--which is by far the biggest problem they have had this season--they should win pretty easily.

Of course, there's the whole "the biggest name to ever play in the Qwest Center" deal, and the home crowd should be pretty solid. Creighton is going to be sky-high for this game and they're going to give them all they've got. Not to mention Kentucky has lost to some poor teams this season, for several different reasons.

Thankfully, every away game is like this for Kentucky. This environment should be absolutely nothing new for them. I think Meeks has a nice game, and Patterson just goes off.

Kentucky 78, Creighton 67.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!!!!

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