Like so many other teams around the country, Indiana brought back a star for an extra year in pursuit of a national championship. For them it’s Ali Patberg and yes, national championship is where the bar is set for a team that went to the Elite Eight last year. The Hoosiers won’t be satisfied with making the program’s first Final Four.
Joining Patberg are even bigger stars in junior Mackenzie Holmes and senior Grace Berger. Then there’s Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, a graduate student like Patberg who dropped 29 points on 7-of-8 shooting from distance in Indiana’s opener. Berger added 18 points and Patberg 10 assists in the 86-63 victory over Butler. Cardaño-Hillary could be an X factor in the Hoosiers’ game against No. 13 Kentucky on Sunday at 5 p.m. (ESPN). We’ll see if she can stay hot.
The Wildcats are always extremely dangerous because they have one of the best players in the nation in Rhyne Howard. This matchup occurred a year ago on Dec. 6 and Kentucky took a 72-68 win. That game was in Lexington and Kentucky came back by winning the fourth 28-14. Sunday’s game will be in Bloomington and Indiana will be hungry for revenge.
It’s actually not Howard, but Dre’una Edwards who leads the Wildcats in scoring through two games. She scored 20 points in an 81-53 win over Presbyterian and 27 in a 98-56 win over North Alabama. We’ll see if Edwards can win the battle of the X factors between her and Cardaño-Hillary as Kentucky looks to get a big resume win. The goal for the Wildcats is also to win the national championship before they send Howard off to the WNBA.
No. 13 Kentucky Wildcats (2-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. No. 8 Indiana Hoosiers (1-0, 0-0 Big 10)
When: Sunday, Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. ET
Where: Bloomington, IN
Key to the matchup: Grace Berger vs. Rhyne Howard. Berger is 6-foot and Howard is 6-foot-2 and both have a lot of strength. It will be interesting to see if Berger can contain Howard if guarding her 1-on-1. It will also be interesting to see if either one of them can post a triple-double. They’re both threats to do so.