How Impressed Should UNC and Kentucky Be?

Yeah, I've seen them. I'm not impressed.

That, of course, was DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky's 6'11" freshman forward talking about the Heels after a drubbing of UNC-Asheville early in the week. And stupidity about taunting your opponent aside, you can't really fault his logic. Carolina, at that point, hadn't really impressed me much either with their best win (Ohio State) marred by letting the Buckeyes back in in the second half and their one loss (Syracuse) including as it did a horrific 22-1 run against. I'm happier with the Heels now, after the win over Michigan State, but I still have my reservations. They're a young team, brilliant in stretches, but who have yet to put together the forty minutes of ball I'd like to see.

Of course, the same thing can be said about Kentucky. The Wildcats are 7-0, but against a schedule so soft it will put you to sleep. It includes such powerhouses as Morehead State, Sam Houston State, Cleveland State, and Please Find Us Another Patsy to Get Us to 2000 Wins State. The toughest foe on the slate was Stanford, currently at fearsome 4-3, and the Wildcats had to go through overtime to get that win.

The other thing about Kentucky is that they are, shockingly, younger than the Heels. Three of their top six players by minutes-played being freshmen, and another two sophomores. UNC, for all the freshmen they put out on the floor, still start two seniors, two sophomores, and a junior. If you're going to take on a talented team (and they are packed with raw talent) like the Wildcats, the best time to do so is early in the season when they haven't faced much adversity.

Kentucky is playing the same style of ball all the cool kids are this season. Or at least the style UNC and Michigan State share, with a rapid tempo and the incredible number of turnovers that accompany it. Kentucky has more height than the Spartans, on par with the Heels, and both teams naturally eschew the three-pointer most of the time. Here's way another strong outside shooting night from Larry Drew and Marcus Ginyard can pay off, as Kentucky is horrible at defending the three. 

The rest of the game will be decided on the interior matchups, however. Cousins vs. Ed Davis and Patrick Patterson on Deon Thompson will be the way things start presumably, but UNC has big men galore to stream off the bench, and as long as the starters can maintain their cool and avoid foul trouble, things should go well. Whoever wins the battles of rebounds and blocked shots should be able to control the game; everything else, from pregame talk to last year's recruiting grudges won't matter a bit after the ball is tipped. I think if the right Carolina team shows up, they can win this one handily. I'm just never sure which team leaves the locker room on any given evening.

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