It is not the same ballgame for the Kentucky Wildcats as it has been in the past. Yes, John Calipari once again get himself some blue-chip recruits, but they haven't all worked out as well as he thought.
They aren't going to any post-season tournament unless they pull off a major upset in the SEC tourney. But they could have a couple of "last hurrahs" before at least some of them move on to what they hope is going to be a career in the NBA.
This game brings together two teams who, on balance, have had an awful lot of difficulty shooting the ball. So who is worse? Well, Kentucky is outside of the top 300 in Effective Field Goal Percentage, which makes it tough to win. But that goes without question.
When you shoot badly, it helps if you're able to clean the offensive glass. And both of them do a good job of it. So who'll be better? That might provide some clues as to who will win.
The Wildcats are the team that brings more size to the table. So potentially they can get the second-chance points. At the same time, they can put seven-foot Olivier Sarr and 6-10 Isaiah Jackson on the floor. But Jackson's ability to STAY on the floor is something that is always questionable. He can block shots. He is one of the better rebounders in the SEC. But he gets himself in foul trouble all too often.
We know this - the 'Cats usually have a clear advantage over their foes when they have Jackson out there.
Ole Miss' problem on offense is that the Rebels can't hit three-pointers. They are one of the worst in the nation at 28.5%. We say this because if they can't make inroads in the lane or in mid-range jumpers, they've got a big mountain to climb. Devontae Shuler, the 6-2 guard, scored 25 points against Vanderbilt last time out, but he has been inconsistent enough that he went 1-for-15 against Mississippi State ten days ago and hit just three of 19 shots in a two-game period against LSU and Auburn in early January.
Kentucky hasn't had a lot of success on an overall basis from beyond the arc. In fact, they are below 33%. But they might be able to get something out of Davion Mintz, a rare senior in the UK rotation (meaning he was one of the few honored on Senior Night this past weekend). Mintz, a transfer from Creighton. He's gone 16 of 38 (42%) from tripleville over the last five games. And if handicappers look at the 'Cats objectively, they'll see that they have nailed 40% or better in five of their last eight contests.
In the latest game against Florida (a 71-67 loss), the team had a lapse, making just four of their 20 attempts from downtown. So yes, maybe that's what might make a difference for them.
As it stands, Kentucky's biggest challenge might be to endure Ole Miss pressure that forces turnovers on 24% of the other team's possessions.
In a game between two squads that can play some defense - and in fact both rank in the nation's top 25 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency - we're giving Kentucky an edge in outside firepower. And what comes with having a lot of size.
Charles Jay is unlike most analysts associated with
handicapping and the gaming industry, in that he also has had extensive
experience in the so-called "mainstream" media as well.
He has been involved with professional sports industry for
almost two decades, working in all capacities, as a matchmaker, booking agent,
manager, and also as an editorial consultant on USA Network's "Tuesday Night
Fights," which, for a time, carried "Charles Jay's Line" on
upcoming fights. As a broadcaster, he has called world title fights around the
world for various outlets, and has served as a color commentator for Sunshine
Network and Prime Network.
His radio experience includes being the host of numerous
programs, including "Sportswatch with Charles Jay" on KDWN in Las
Vegas, "Total Action" on WAXY 790 in Miami, and "Charles Jay's
Winning Edge", syndicated into 55 markets by the American Radio Networks,
and he's done podcasts on all subjects related to sports, gaming and popular
Working within the casino industry, he has a special events
consultant for Casino Magic in Mississippi, as that venue established itself in
the early 1990s as a hotbed of boxing activity in particular. Prior to this, he
had been engaged as a casino gaming columnist for, among others, Casino Player,
Card Player and Sports Form (now known as Gaming Today), specializing in
blackjack. And later on, his investigative series on boxing, entitled
"Operation Cleanup," won him much critical acclaim, including the
2003 "Dignity" Award, in the category of "Best Sports
Writer," as bestowed by the Retired Boxers Foundation, a non-profit
organization dedicated to rendering assistance to ex-fighters in need.
In 2006 he established a content services division of his
company, which has eventually evolved in JayWords, and he is arguably the
world's most prolific sports & gaming writer, with over 20,000 articles to
his credit, the vast majority of which have been sports handicapping pieces. So
you might say he has analyzed as many sporting events as anyone alive during
this period. He has also brought some interest with his so-called
"gimmick" odds on special events, including the Academy Awards, the
NFL Draft, and the Super Bowl, for which he posted dozens and dozens of
different odds propositions with various sportsbooks.
This renaissance man is a winner of the Retired Boxers Foundation's "Dignity Award" and a member of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame; graduate of the University of
Miami (Florida) who currently resides in the South Florida area.