I'm not really sure where to file Kentucky. For years, they've seemed like the team full of all medium sized guys from the original Nintendo hockey (there were three types of players: big, strong and slow; slow, fast and weak; and medium, medium and medium). They seem to be the latter, although calling any Kentucky team slow would likely be a mistake to later be regretted.
Azubuikie is their leading scorer, and he is basically a scoring machine. He averages 15.1 ppg and is 6'6", but he has a scorer's mentality. He averaged nearly 40 points a game his senior year of high school. If we put Keith on him, he'll have a height advantage. If we put JR on him, he'll likely have a mobility advantage. My guess is that we do some combination of the two until one proves more successful.
Hayes is their leading rebounder. He's also 6'6", but he's a Chaz Barkleyesque 242 pounds. He plays almost exclusively down low, but evidently has decent range (he hasn't hit a three this year). I fear that Moody, Giles or Moo will get knocked around pretty good by Hayes, but I think that down low, he might have trouble with the height/strength combo offered by either Darnell or Sasha. But he is quick and fast - he runs a 4.8 40 despite his mass.
I don't know a lot about Sparks except that he is about Aaron's size. His stats make him look like a bit more of a scorer, and he appears to be very careful with the ball (his a:to ratio is 2.8). He is not a great shooter - he's at 40% for the year and at 35% from three. I think that he and Rondo will be bringing the ball up most of the time.
Rondo is a freshman and is about the same size as Sparks, though he lacks his experience. If the game is on the line, foul Rondo. Not only is he a freshman, but he also shoots only 53% from the line. He is only shooting 33% from the three this year as well, so he doesn't look as if he'll bomb us out of the arena. Either Aaron or Russell should be as difficult of foe as he has faced this year.
Shagari Alleyne is a 7'3" 271 pound giant from none other than Rice High in NYC. He only averages 13.5 minutes a game, but he is shooting 73% from the field! My guess is that he's quite slow, but he may be better at this point in his career, than Sasha.
Their other main center is Randolph Morris, the highly touted Atlanta freshman. He's putting up some pretty good numbers - 10 points a game in just under 20 minutes. He has nearly as many offensive rebounds as defensive, so whoever is guarding him needs to make sure to body up.
Kentucky has a lot of players who simply don't play very much. Overall, even without Wayne, I think we're more purely talented than they are, but they have the advantage of playing 'full strength' and of playing at home.
Happily, when their crowd starts chanting 'Go Big Blue', we'll be the ones in blue uniforms...
I give UK the slight edge when considering all things, but I don't think they'll blow us out unless we give up. I also think that if we're shooting well from the perimeter and make sure we rebound and defend, they will have a hard time beating us.
I am a KU homer and will predict a win for the Hawks, despite UK's advantages.
KU 73, UK 66.