The American East Conference Champion Stony Brook Seawolves are set to take on the SEC Champion Kentucky Wildcats in a showdown of two teams in the stacked East Region. This will not be the first SEC team Stony Brook has played this season, as the Seawolves were able to force overtime in an eventual defeat against Vanderbilt in Nashville earlier in the year. John Calipari’s Kentucky squad lost by a dozen to Vanderbilt just two weeks ago in the same gymnasium. Does Stony Brook have a chance at a big upset?
No. 13 Stony Brook Seawolves (26-6) vs. No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats (26-8)
When: 9:40 p.m. ET (Thursday)
Where: Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines)
Line: Kentucky -14
Keys for Stony Brook
The Seawolves must dominate the areas of the floor where they have excelled all season long: offensive rebounding and three-point shooting. They are led by senior forward Jameel Warney, who must get his touches and be productive despite his size disadvantage (6-8, 255). It is unlikely that he will be able to match his season averages (19.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg) against the towering frontcourt of Kentucky, but Warney must be patient and capitalize on his opportunities. Another senior, guard Carson Puriefoy, shot better than 40 percent from three this season. If he can connect early and space the floor, Stony Brook will compete.
Keys for Kentucky
Kentucky must avoid complacency in this opening matchup, and the Selection Committee may have helped the Wildcats in that regard. John Calipari was outspoken in his disgust over his team receiving a No. 4 seed. This young Kentucky squad, led by Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis, needs to play angry and show why his criticisms were fair. Guard Isaiah Briscoe went to the same high school as Stony Brook’s Warney, hopefully he can provide the scouting report on how to shut him down.
Stony Brook is definitely not a team to scoff at, but Kentucky is peaking at the exact right time coming into this tilt. The frustration over drawing a No. 4 seed in the toughest region in the Tournament will have Calipari’s Wildcats playing inspired and hungry.