Indiana Basketball: 5 Reasons Why Hoosiers Will Be Better Than Kentucky
These two teams are among the top squads in the nation. Many polls have the Indiana Hoosiers as the No. 1 team with the Kentucky Wildcats as the No. 3 ranked team.
Kentucky knocked the Hoosiers out of last year's tournament in the Sweet 16 with a double digit victory in the Georgia Dome. The Wildcats went on to win the national title.
The Hoosiers return all five starters from that team last year with many more guys. They only lost two guys, but gained one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. Kentucky, lost all of their guys with five going in the first round of the NBA Draft and really only have one guy returning from last year's team.
These though are the five reasons why Indiana will have a better season than Kentucky.
Kentucky Has No Veteran Leadership
Most of you Kentucky naysayers will say, 'We don't need veterans when we have talented freshmen.'
They will fail to see that they relied on guys other than freshmen at times last season. Darius Miller, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb provided the leadership to help the incoming talented freshmen class.
Kentucky doesn't have that luxury this year.
The incoming freshmen will be thrown to the wolves quickly.
They don't have those three to lean on when the situations get tough. Last year, Lamb provided the clutch scoring option when they needed it. Jones came up big in situations when times got rough; he would grab a rebound, make a steal, hit a three, whatever was needed, these guys were there.
This freshman class won't be able to do that against elite teams.
This is the main reason to why I don't believe the Wildcats will make a trip to the Final Four for the third-straight season: They just don't have the leadership.
Indiana, on the other hand, has all veteran leadership.
They're like Kentucky last year but with more than three veterans. Their whole team is veterans, with four freshmen. It's the opposite scenario for the teams. Indiana can let their freshmen learn and not throw them in pressure moments, while that's all Kentucky will be able to do.
There's a reason they say 'Freshmen moments.'
Kentucky Has No Bench
The Wildcats never use much of a bench.
They rely on six to seven guys any given night, with the two coming off the bench being a huge drop off from the starters. This season though, it's going to be the worst bench John Calipari has had ever.
There's not much talent outside the starting five.
When his young freshmen are making mistakes and getting in foul trouble, Calipari doesn't have the luxury of bringing a talented junior or senior off the bench to bail them out.
He's stuck with youngsters and their growing pains.
Kentucky will get wins since they play such a cupcake non conference schedule, but rest assured, they will not go undefeated in conference play this season and will not go too deep in the tournament.
They just don't have the leadership or bench presence to make noise.
Indiana on the other hand has the deepest bench in the country. All 13 guys can start on this team and can play at a high level. When 13 guys can all play, at least three of them are going to have a big night every game.
When other teams have off nights, Indiana won't.
Someone will be ready.
No other team can say that.
Believe what you want, but Cody Zeller owned Anthony Davis in both matchups last season.
He knew Davis loved to jump and block shots, so Zeller got him in the air and got Davis in foul trouble early in both games. The picture is worth a thousand words.
Davis is leaned over, and all Zeller had to do there was go straight up to get a foul.
Now, the refs called some bogus calls to get Zeller in foul trouble in the tournament. If they stayed out of the game and didn't try to make it even by calling clear no-foul situations on Zeller, then Indiana could have won with Zeller on the floor more.
Zeller did what he wanted against Davis and will do the same against Noel Nerlens.
In fact, Davis is much better than Noel, as I don't see Nerlens being able to stop Cody.
Granted it's going to be a battle, but Noel doesn't have the experience to stop Zeller. He's not going to be able to guard Zeller outside the lane, and I suspect he will get in foul trouble early as well because of that.
If the two meet up, Zeller will have the advantage.
Tournament games come down to guard play.
Normally, the team with the best guards that don't turn the ball over advance. Advantage Indiana, big time, in this category.
Kentucky has some decent guards, but they're not like what it had last season. This young group will turn the ball over a lot more.
This will play into Indiana's hands if these two meet.
Indiana on the other hand finally has a true point guard in Yogi Ferrell, as the McDonald's All-American is an assist machine. He rarely turns the ball over and finds the open man with ease.
Indiana also has Jordan Hulls, Maurice Creek, Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey and Jeremy Hollowell, who all will get time in the backcourt.
That's the best and deepest backcourt in the nation.
These guys can score in bunches and not turn the ball over.
Indiana Has a Better Starting 5
No team in the nation has a more talented/veteran laden starting five.
The Hoosiers return all five starters, but gain a true freshman point guard who should start.That means a starter is coming off the bench.
I'll take Yogi Ferrell, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford and Cody Zeller against anyone. That group will beat Kentucky's freshmen group any day of the week. They have talent, experience and know how to win a college basketball game.
Four of these guys were starting in the Sweet 16 game last year.
Zero of Kentucky's guys will have started a game last year, as most of them were in high school. That doesn't bode well against a veteran team like the Hoosiers.
Advantage Indiana, by a lot, in this matchup.
I like talented/experience over freshmen/inconsistency any day.