I don’t think that it is a stretch to say that the Battle of the Bluegrass on Saturday is a media frenzy.
And how could it not be?
The most heated rivalry in the country featuring two teams from a college basketball crazed state with head coaches that strongly dislike each other playing for the right earn a berth in the national title game. That touches on about a third of the storylines heading into that game.
But with the circus surrounding the buildup to the game, we’ve failed to talk about the actual game and the teams themselves. One of the more interesting aspects of this matchup is the improvement that has been shown by both point guards over the course of the season.
Back in November, Marquis Teague simply looked lost trying to run the point for John Calipari. The issue was that the Wildcats were trying to play too fast for him. Teague still had the bad habits of a high schooler, which resulted in far too many turnovers. As he has been wont to do over the course of his tenure at Kentucky, Calipari really took the air out of the ball right around the start of SEC play. Kentucky became more of a half-court oriented team, and as Teague become more and more effective and developed more and more confidence, Calipari slowly let the reins out.
A Kentucky offense that currently rates second nationally behind Missouri in terms of efficiency. You better believe tht Teague’s ability to facilitate and distribute has played a major role in that growth. He’s averaging 14.5 ppg and 5.3 apg in the tournament.
Siva’s growth has been just as impressive, but his value to the Cardinals is much different. Louisville’s strength is on the defensive end of the floor, where they are borderline impenetrable. And while Siva plays a major role in that defense, it is his value on the offensive end of the floor that is more important. Louisville can really struggle at times to come up with points, which is why Siva’s ability to create off of the bounce is so important. He’s been deadly of late in the pick-and-roll.
If Louisville is going pull off this upset, they need to make the game ugly and physical. But even if it is ugly and physical — as the first matchup between these two teams always is — Louisville still needs to score enough to win.