No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Davidson
When: 5:10 p.m. Thursday (CBS)
Vegas line: Kentucky by 5
Why Kentucky should win: As usual, the Wildcats are one of the most talented teams in the nation, albeit a young one, even by their standards. When they’re on, they’re extremely tough. They’re super athletic and have one of the best perimeter defenses in the nation (No.4 in 3-point percentage).
Why Davidson could win: Strength meets strength, and if the Wildcats can create some open 3s, they have the talent to make them, ranked No. 10 with 10.7 per game. Interior defense and rebounding aren’t a strength, so forcing Kentucky to take jumpers will be key. UK is 333rd in the country in 3-pointers made per game.
Notable: Davidson is 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament since its run to the Elite Eight in 2008 behind Steph Curry. … In John Calipari’s nine seasons at Kentucky, the Wildcats have reached the Final Four four times, winning it all once. … Kentucky freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt (7.9 rebounds per game) has an ankle injury, and Calipari said “my guess is that he won’t play (Thursday).” … Davidson is 6-7 when shooting less than 37 percent from 3-point range. … Calipari raved about Boise doughnut shop DK Donuts, where he went Wednesday morning. … ESPN’s Giant Killer metric gives Davidson a 31.7 percent chance to win.
Quotable: “I think as of right now we’re playing with a chip on our shoulder. A lot of people think that they can upset us and we’re the team to beat in the first round. We’ll be more than ready for this game coming up.” — Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Prediction: Kentucky 75, Davidson 73