Mason Plumlee will be a huge part of Duke's success against Kentucky.
The No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats will have a huge test against the No. 8 Duke Blue Devils—a test that Blue Devil senior Mason Plumlee will make sure that the youthful Wildcats don't pass.
Plumlee is coming off a huge game against Georgia State in which he put up 19 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. The Blue Devil big man averaged 11.1 points per game last season and is going to beat that average against Kentucky.
To be clear, the Wildcats are not to be taken lightly. The precocious 'Cats are made up of some of the best young players in the country. However, the Wildcats' youth was almost their undoing in the team's first game of the season against Maryland.
That inexperience will be Kentucky's downfall against Duke. Coach K has another experienced squad ready to take the court, and his senior forward will be the key against the Wildcats.
Plumlee will see his share of big Kentucky defenders, whether it be Willie Cauley-Stein (who pulled down eight rebounds in his first game) or Nerlens Noel, another freshman who pulled down nine boards and added a few blocks against Maryland.
Unfortunately for Coach Calipari and Kentucky, it won't matter who's defending Plumlee. Plumlee's experience, along with the smarts of the other Duke veterans, will be far too much for the young Wildcats to handle.
The young players of Kentucky are obviously talented, but the college game is much different from high school. They may be part of another No. 1 recruiting class for Coach Calipari, but they're also going to need some time to get things going.
The Wildcats could hardly handle Maryland; how will they be able to stop one of the best teams in the ACC?
Kentucky did a decent job of running its half-court offense against Maryland but will have a much harder time against Duke. With gritty, experienced bigs like Plumlee and Ryan Kelly, the Wildcats' athletic big men won't be able to handle the Blue Devils down low.
Kentucky will get better as the season goes on, but Duke will get the better of them in this early-season matchup.
If these teams meet further down the road, say in March, the outcome may be a little bit different.