Florida vs Kentucky: Tonight, February 7, at 7 p.m., on ESPN. Be there or, I dunno, tweet square.
PF/C Anthony Davis
It's not fair to Davis to call him anything but the best player who will see the floor for either team on Tuesday night. At 6'10" and 220, he's built more like a mantis than a manchild, but he's got superb instincts on the defensive end and doesn't try to do too much on the offense, sticking with a repertoire of deep low post moves and dunks that has made him the nation's most efficient offensive player. He doesn't turn the ball over, passes acceptably, and hits almost 70 percent of his free throws, too, meaning his only glaring weakness is his inability to look at himself in mirrors. Good luck with that, Patric.
G Kenny Boynton
Kenny Boynton's cooled off considerably from the white-hot shooting that marked the first 15 or so games of his year, when he was making nearly half of his threes, but is still shooting a fantastic 43.8 percent on his threes, and plays admirable defense on all manner of wing players despite giving up a few inches to virtually every one of his assignments. Boynton also drives better than any other Florida player and typically avoids turnovers. If he has a big game, the Gators could well pull the upset on the Wildcats.
MKG, as he's known, is quick and long, and will be a match-up problem for every Florida player except Will Yeguete, who is exceedingly unlikely to draw him as an assignment. He slashes mercilessly and is lethal in transition, but could have a better jumper and improve his shot selection. At 6'7" and 232 pounds, it might not matter against the undersized Gators.
Beal isn't the second coming of Ray Allen that some thought he would be: of Florida's seven players with 10 or more threes, Beal is last in three-point field goal percentage. But Beal's made up for that by being more like Dwyane Wade: he's rebounding exceptionally well for his size, improving on defense on a week-by-week basis, and developing a driving game to match Boynton's. He's also the only perimeter-based Gator in the same realm as Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, and Terrence Jones, athletically, and that may end up mattering.
PF/C Patric Young
No one's match-up tonight is tougher than Young's: he gives up size and length to Davis, and is still struggling with an ankle injury that is likely to limit his explosiveness down low. But Young, prior to his injury, was showing signs of a polished, consistent post game, and he can be deadly as a transition defender and dunker; he's also the emotional fulcrum of Florida's team, likely the best bellwether for whether the Gators are really feeling it at any given moment. If I were to sketch out the blueprint for victory tonight, Young having a big game would be the first item with a bullet.
For more on the Wildcats, head to A Sea Of Blue.