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Kentucky’s Road Hasn’t Been As Hard As You Think

It seems like everywhere you look on the internet, you get talk of how tough Kentucky’s road to the title game was. And that’s fair: their opponents, seed wise, does make it the toughest road ever. But if we’ve seen anything lately, it’s how little seeds mean. I’m not here to say Kentucky got an easy draw to the final, because that would be an insult to how well they have played at times these past three weeks (and I don’t want my house to get blown up), but Kentucky has gotten a fortunate draw. And no, this isn’t about how they “got” to play Wichita State in the second round.

Last week, Gary Parrish of CBS Sports explained on their weekly podcast that the Harrison twins struggled against bigger guards. The reason they struggled against bigger guards, he said, was because when they were playing AAU ball they never played at an older age group. Since the Harrison twins have always been big for their age, it stands to reason they’ve never, or rarely, had to play against guards bigger than they are. So perhaps them having eFGs under 50% and turnover rates roughly equal to their assist rates hasn’t been due to their attitude, or youth, or anything like that, but merely playing against D1 type size, both in the backcourt and frontcourt, more often.

So when Kentucky had to play against Kansas State, Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan, and Wisconsin, it was (rightly) looked at as a tough road. But, perhaps just as importantly, it was a road in which their starting backcourt could feast on some smaller competition. Below is a fancy schmancy chart (not really) of how opposing backcourts stacked up to the Harrisons, size-wise:

(in case the chart did not embed, click here). As you can see, some of these heights (taken from KenPom.com) are misleading, but it probably balances out. The Harrisons might not be 6’6″, but I doubt Boatright and Napier are each 6′ tall either.

As we’ve seen all tournament, matchups and location means more than the little number that comes before your name. Kentucky may have had a tough road by seed, but the Harrison twins are thankful they’ve gotten the road they did.

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