Kentucky is fortunate enough, some might say lucky enough, to get a second shot at the team that beat it in a much more friendly environment.
4 Indiana vs. 1 Kentucky, 9:45 pm ET, CBS
What do you get for an NCAA Tournament favorite that already has it all?
Kentucky has a future hall of fame coach. It has one of the most passionate and best traveling fan bases, one that will undoubtedly turn Georgia's biggest city once again into Catlanta. It has the nation's best player in Anthony Davis, another surefire lottery pick in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and a certain first rounder in Terrence Jones. Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague might also be first rounders depending on who you ask. A 1-seed has already gone down in Michigan State, and the two others, Syracuse and UNC, are not at full strength anymore. The 2-seed in UK's region lost to a 15-seed, and if Big Blue makes it to the Final Four, its opponent will either be a 4-seed or a team it has beaten three times already.
So what do you get for an NCAA Tournament favorite that already has it all? You get it an opportunity to avenge its one regular season loss, that's what.
Indiana's buzzer beating win over Kentucky has been one of this season's great curiosities. At first, it was a monumental upset given that the Hoosiers hadn't beaten anyone of note yet and was coming off of a 12-20 season in 2010-11. Then, after taking out Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan, it wasn't so much of a fluke anymore. Then IU went 2-4 in January including losses to Minnesota and Nebraska, making that streak of wins look more like good fortune than anything. Eventually, we all caught onto the pattern: 2011-12 Indiana is nearly unbeatable at home and shaky away from it.
That pattern portends well for the Cats tonight, as the Georgia Dome should resemble a greatly expanded Rupp Arena in terms of fan atmosphere. On top of that, the rest of the tournament's Big Ten teams save Ohio State have flamed out in or before the Round of 16. On top of that, Indiana is down senior PG Verdell Jones, who played 34 minutes in Indiana's win over Kentucky back in December.
It's not often that a team gets to avenge a notable regular season loss in the NCAA Tournament, but here UK has the opportunity to do so. I know the loss in Bloomington is one they've stewed over all year, and now they get a chance to avenge it. In a friendly environment. Against a short-handed Indiana. I think we all know where this is going.
The pick: Kentucky 75, Indiana 60