This was the first set game for the second round of the 2011 NCAA basketball tournament. Let's take an early peek.
Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 7th best offense, 22nd best defense, average tempo (164th). Great shooting offense and defense. Decent rebounding team, excellent at not losing the ball to the other team, excellent three point shooting offense and strong two point shooting defense, and good at swatting that ball away from the basket.
The biggest weakness with Kentucky is that they're young, and it showed through the first round. Famed procurer of one-and-done talent John Calipari had to replace his entire starting lineup, leaving him with three starting frosh carrying the load this season. Youth don't usually win national championships, no matter how talented their lineup is. It showed in their matchup with senior-laden Princeton, where the Wildcats frosh played only marginally well to edge them over the upset-lurking Tigers.
Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 31st best offense, 29th best defense. Great at holding down the shooting numbers of other teams, particularly those who shoot three pointers. Great offensive rebounding team, one of the best in the country. They're adept at getting to the free throw line. They are also a senior-laden team with plenty of experience a year off a Final Four appearance, with seven upperclassmen to rely on.
The biggest weakness with West Virginia is that they're not a really good shooting team. They also give up a lot of offensive rebounds, and both of their weaknesses were on display against Clemson early before the Tigers wore out and WVU wore them down.
Prediction: It'd be hard not to take West Virginia after the way Kentucky played against Princeton. As for those thinking about grudge match...most of the Kentucky players are gone from that team, so West Virginia's players should actually have more familiarity with them than the other way around.
That being said...Kentucky. The Wildcats should have the advantage in the two crucial categories--rebounding and shooting. Playing at a slow tempo again will probably be infuriating, but the Wildcats have probably been preparing all week for a potential rematch with the Mountaineers, and I wouldn't be surprised if they look much better on Saturday.