UK's sweet sixteen matchup is now set after the Cats defeated West Virginia 71 to 63 on Saturday. Kentucky will now face the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State advanced to the round of 16 after demolishing George Mason 98-66 on Sunday.
Another team in the final 16 has played both squads. Florida lost to Ohio State back in November and lost twice this season to the Cats. In Larry Vaught's article for the Advocate Messenger, a couple Gator players think that UK can play with this year's overall number one seed in the tournament. Here are some excerpts.
“I think they definitely could play with Ohio State. They are both top 10 teams,” Florida center Patric Young said. “It would be a pretty fast-paced game. Neither team turns the ball over that much. It would probably go down to the wire.”
Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin says both teams lack great depth, and that should help Kentucky “match up with them better than a deeper team” based on what he saw from the two teams.
“Kentucky has tall guards than can match up with (Ohio State guards) David Lighty and William Buford. I think it would be a good matchup to see (Josh) Harrellson go up against (Ohio State center Jared) Sullinger. I think it would be a good game,” Wilbekin said.
“But I definitely think they could play and compete with them. Kentucky is a good team, too. Ohio State is good. I think it would be a close game.”
“It would be pretty tough for them to guard Sullinger, but Josh Harrellson could probably give him a pretty good fight because they are about the same size and Harrellson has gotten a lot better,” Young said. “Sullinger is good, but I would say Festus Ezeli (of Vanderbilt) is by far the best post player I faced. That’s why I think Harrellson could hold his own with Sullinger.”
Young says the key against Sullinger is “don’t get pushed under the rim” where he gets easy scores. “Don’t let him take over the game and Kentucky will be fine,” he said.
Wilbekin says Ohio State’s freshmen “seemed more mature than typical freshmen” with their play.
“I don’t know if Ohio State is necessarily better on the perimeter, but Ohio State is more of a 3-point shooting team,” Wilbekin said. “Kentucky is more of a driving team. But it’s hard to know who might end up having the edge. It could go either way.”
“Kentucky has Brandon Knight, but he can do a lot more than just shoot the ball. Ohio State has Jon Diebler, and he shoots the ball really well. I would say Ohio State has the overall better shooting advantage by a slim margin because of all their guards who can shoot so well,” Young said.
Wilbekin believes how Harrellson fares against Sullinger, who has 17 double-double this year and averages 17.2 points and 10.1 rebounds, will determine who wins Friday’s game to reach the Elite Eight.
“Sullinger is a great player. He is going to have a huge impact on the game, probably,” Wilbekin said. “Harrellson will have to play well, and I mean really well, for Kentucky to win. But we’ve seen him do that and maybe he’ll do it again because he’s shown he can do it,”