INDIANAPOLIS — A matchup much discussed at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday had nothing to do with Kentucky versus Kansas nor Duke versus Michigan State. Talent-versus-experience figured prominently as college basketball analysts sized up the 2014-15 season.
"All the questions that surround young talent with Kentucky, Duke, Kansas," said former Duke star Shane Battier, who now works for ESPN. "How will young guys come along? Will they buy in? Are they worried about their college careers? Are they worried about their professional careers?
"Then you have more experienced teams like a Wisconsin. They bring in a different dynamic. Maybe not as talented as a Kentucky or a Kansas. So a lot of interesting story lines."
Clark Kellogg of CBS echoed that sentiment. He said he had the "most convictions" about Kentucky and Wisconsin. His assessment of those teams diverged wildly. Wisconsin returns "formidable players" from a Final Four team. Kentucky has a stockpile of talent.
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"Wisconsin is the team I have the most convictions about," Kellogg said. "Kentucky is 1A, for me."
Battier expressed complete confidence in Coach John Calipari getting Kentucky's many star players to evolve into an effective team.
"I believe in Cal," he said. "I think Cal is one of the best coaches in terms of melding talent, and he'll figure out a way to keep it together."
ESPN analyst Dick Vitale expressed doubt about Kentucky's much-discussed platoon system remaining viable throughout the season.
"I don't think you can get in the rhythm (Calipari) wants when guys play 18 to 20 minutes," he said. "Not when you start playing Duke, the major leaguers."
Vitale said platoons, which by definition limit individual playing time, are not conducive to "continuity, rhythm, familiarity" developing in a team.
"You can't get that if you're constantly changing people," Vitale said.
Chad Ford, ESPN's NBA Draft analyst, gushed about seeing Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and Michigan State in one setting on one night.
"When you see a game like Kansas-Kentucky when there are 15 potential NBA players, to me this is the most important scouting event that will happen," Ford said.
Ford said there were six lottery picks on display: Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein of UK, Jahlil Okafur and Justise Winslow of Duke, Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre Jr. of Kansas,
Ford said the doubleheader put on display one-third of the first-round picks in next year's NBA Draft. At this stage, he said, he had Okafur as the first player selected and Towns the third.
The State Farm Champions Classic moves to Chicago next season. UK will play Duke, while Kansas plays Michigan State. In 2016, the event returns to New York, where UK plays Michigan State, and Kansas plays Duke.
While a new arena continues to be an occasional topic of UK conversation, Kansas celebrates its 60th season in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks have sold out 212 straight home games.
Dave Baker and former St. John's coach Mike Jarvis will call Friday's UK-Boston game for Fox Sports North.