Kentucky-Indiana rematch could be better than Round 1

9 Comments

It’s the first marquee rematch of the 2012 NCAA tournament.

Kentucky remembers all too well the buzz-beating rainbow three-pointer by Christian Watford that put a blemish on its otherwise untarnished regular season.

It was a moment of vindication for Indiana coach Tom Crean, the culmination of a struggle back to national prominence and a validation that the trajectory of his program is moving upward.

For Kentucky, it was a bitter loss that would linger, and still lingers.

Now for Round 2.

The Wildcats come in off of dominating wins over Western Kentucky and Iowa State, while Indiana beat pesky mid-major New Mexico State and survived Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday night.

It is scary to think how much more solidified this Kentucky team has become since the Indiana loss, and it comes down to Marquis Teague and Terrence Jones.

Jones has exerted himself more on the offensive end down the stretch and, when he is passionate and aggressive, his frame allows him to do things that look pro-ready.

In Indiana’s first matchup, Jones took just three shots and finished with four points.

Teague had been important in both NCAA tournament games so far, bouncing back from the disappointing 0-for-7 outing in an SEC championship loss to Vanderbilt.

Saturday night’s 24-point, seven-assist effort against Iowa State was the engine behind the Wildcat attack.

For Indiana, Verdell Jones III, who made the pass to Watford for his game-winning shot in the Hoosier’s early-season upset, is out with a torn ACL that ended his Indiana career.

If Jones can find himself for Kentucky in the rematch, that will shift the focus to freshman Cody Zeller down low for the Hoosiers, who had a big game against VCU with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

The perimeter game will also be key for the Hoosiers. If Watford, Jordan Hulls, and Will Sheehey can extend Kentucky away from the basket, the inside-out action can open Zeller up down low. Iowa State was unable to do that, which contributed to their loss on Saturday night.

And if you’re looking to see the game in person, though, it won’t be cheap. The cheapest seat on StubHub are reportedly $145.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_