INDIANAPOLIS — Kentucky and Wichita State will face off for just the second time on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats will sport their collection of former 5-star recruits and Wichita State is more than comfortable adopting an underdog role.
But the No. 2 vs. No. 10 matchup figures to be much closer than the seeds suggest.
“I am very tired of hearing about Kentucky this and Kentucky that,” Wichita State forward Markis McDuffie said. “That’s why I can’t wait for this game tomorrow. If you hear the same thing a bunch of times, you’re gonna get annoyed, right? Now that we get the chance to play them, now you guys will see how the outcome will be.”
Here’s two matchups to watch when the Wildcats and Shockers hit the court.
Isaiah Briscoe vs. Markis McDuffie
Briscoe is a 6-foot-3 guard and McDuffie is a 6-foot-8 forward. The size discrepancy doesn’t suggest that the two will guard each other Sunday, but there’s a history here.
Briscoe and McDuffie matched up twice in New Jersey state title games and Briscoe won both. Briscoe is from Newark, New Jersey and McDuffie is from Patterson — a mere 15 miles apart.
“He was like the king of New Jersey,” McDuffie said of Briscoe. “He was a social media sensation with mixtapes and videos everywhere. They called him “Must See TV.” He was the man.”
Briscoe led Roselle Catholic to state championships in his junior and senior seasons. He averaged 20.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a senior.
Briscoe didn’t elaborate on facing McDuffie other than saying it was a “good Jersey rivalry.” McDuffie said he’d like to start the game guarding his old high school rival.
“We haven’t talked at all,” McDuffie said. “We’re not close. We know what we’re here for. We know what we’re trying to do.”
Wichita State coach Greg Marshall said McDuffie could end up guarding Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. He said the Shockers have four players including McDuffie who can guard four positions.
Bam Adebayo vs. Shaq Morris
What about Kentucky freshman Bam Adebayo stands out to Gregg Marshall?
“He’s a mountain of a man,” Marshall said. “He is a huge guy. He likes to jump higher than anybody on the court and dunk it through the basket.”
Wichita State junior center Shaq Morris will be Adebayo’s primary defender on Sunday. Morris, at 6-foot-8 and 265 pounds, expects a physical matchup with the 6-foot-10, 260-pound Adebayo. While Adebayo has the size advantage, Morris has experience. He’s in his fourth season with the Shockers and was a member of the 2014 team that lost to Kentucky.
“He’s built like Dwight Howard — an NBA body already for how young he is,” Morris said of Adebayo. “It comes down to be using my experience and the years I’ve been doing this.”
Physical was the word both bigs used.
“I got a huge body and people don’t usually push me around,” Morris said. “Whenever I can get a matchup against a guy like Bam, I love it.”