March 5, 2012

03/05/2012 - 5:55am

The #1 Kentucky Wildcats were the only team in 2012 to finish with an unblemished conference schedule, closing 16-0 in SEC play. Their latest victory was a 74-59 takedown of the #16 Florida Gators, with the Gainsville crowd unable to shake them. Now 30-1, Kentucky was led once again by super frosh Anthony Davis with 22 points, 12 boards and 6 blocks. Florida got 21 points and 9 boards from sophomore Patric Young, but there guards were held neutral by the quick Kentucky defense.

With Anthony Davis thought to be a possible triple crown award winner, considered the favorite for freshman, defensive and national player of the year, John Calipari is preparing for the tournament by simulating life without him. It has been pretty incredible that Davis, who is currently leading the NCAA with 4.7 blocks per game, has not had foul trouble become a major issue. However, just to be safe, Kentucky is taking time to prepare for the possibility of playing without him for larger portions of time.

During their lone loss of the year to Indiana, Kentucky was indeed forced to play large chunks of the game with Davis on bench with foul trouble. With the NCAA tournament usually leading to more physical, methodical play, teams might try to attack the paint despite Davis' shot swatting prowess to draw cheap fouls. Kentucky has taken time in each practice to play Davis on the second team with either Terrence Jones at center or Eloy Vargas taking the spot with Jones staying at the 4. This preparation seems like a great idea, as more physical teams might try to break the trend of Davis being relatively foul free.

03/05/2012 - 5:14am

At the first North Carolina/Duke game of 2012, Austin Rivers buried a dagger to upset the Tar Heels on their home court. Well, North Carolina brought some heavy artillery to Cameron Indoor Stadium and counterattacked with a convincing 88-70 victory on their heated rival. Tyler Zeller, the player who Rivers sunk his previous game winner over, got sweet redemption in his last regular season ACC game with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Zeller might very well win conference player of the year and the Tar Heels gained the ACC regular season crown with the victory, as well as inside position on a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels attacked right out of the gate and went into the half with a 48-24 lead. Kendall Marshall was fantastic for North Carolina with a game high 20 points and 10 assists, as he inches closer to the ACC record for assists in a season. It was senior night at Cameron and Miles Plumlee played very well in defeat with 16 and 11 before fouling out. Austin Rivers, who had 29 in the first match-up, was relatively held in check though still finishing with 15 on the night.

Mike Krzyzewski was clearly not impressed with his teams energy level, though I am sure he was not as kind in his synopsis. With Duke ranked 4th and North Carolina ranked 6th going into the contest, this was a huge statement game for either team with conference supremacy on the line. While the season series is now split, North Carolina dominance in this game will be fresh in most peoples memory. The two have a chance to play each other again should they both advance to the finals of the ACC tournament.

Could it be that North Carolina is peaking at the right time? With the combination of size and experience, the Tar Heels stumbled after being considered the early favorites, but they definitely look to be a contender for NCAA supremacy. Kentucky and Syracuse have both looked incredible, plus the NCAA tournament is always unpredictable. But, if this latest match-up in Durham was a sample of the intensity that North Carolina is going to bring to the table, Roy Williams may bring another banner to Chapel Hill.