That’s right, you heard me. The Kentucky Wildcats are going to win the 2012 NCAA tournament and raise their 8th championship banner (9th if you’re using Chapel Hill math) in New Orleans this April. Why am I so confident? Because my brain works.
John Calipari’s team has literally no weakness this year. They have seen everything you could possibly throw at them, and have taken it in stride.
Let’s start with their lone loss. In December, Kentucky lost to Indiana on the road. It was the first road game for a team that plays 4 freshmen, two sophomores and a single senior in their normal rotation. Even veteran teams struggle early in the season away from home. Don’t believe me? Ask the pre-season favorites to win it all. So it’s understandable for a young team to get overwhelmed on the road and take one on the chin, right? Well, except that these young Cats didn’t scare and only lost thanks to a miracle shot at the buzzer. Yeah, that’s what it takes to beat this team. Miracles.
So what makes this team so good? Basically, they can do everything.
John Calipari has his team playing terrifying defense. They lead the nation in blocked shots by over a block and half per game. Freshman Anthony Davis is averaging a ridiculous 4.8 blocks per game, yet rarely gets in foul trouble. As a team, the Wildcats average 9 blocks per game so Davis is hardly the one player capable of throwing out your garbage. I know what you’re thinking, blocks are nice but that’s only one part of playing defense. You are right. This team also leads the nation in field goal defense, limiting opponents to 36.5% per game. Individually, this team has several guys who can guard multiple positions making it nearly impossible to try and find mismatches in your favor. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the best perimeter defender on the team and consistently shuts down the other team’s best player. Just a few weeks ago against Mississippi State, Dee Bost had an incredbile first half and looked to be leading the Bulldogs to an upset win. Then Calipari made a little tweak. He put Kidd-Gilchrist on Bost for the second half. Kentucky outscored Mississippi State 45-23 after that.
“Ok, we get it. Kentucky plays good defense, but that usually affects a team’s offense.” You would think so, right? Nope. UK averages 77.8 points per game, good for 19th best in the nation. Pretty good right? Well when you look at their offensive efficiency, it’s even better. Kentucky ranks 2nd in offensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy’s statistics, averaging 122 points per 100 possessions. Now you’re starting to see why this team is so scary. But, I know what most of you are probably thinking. “Calipari’s players are graet athletes, but when you throw a zone at them they can’t break it with outside jumpers. Remember the West Virginia game in the Elite 8 two years ago?” Sorry to disappoint you, but this team can shoot. Sophomore Doron Lamb is hitting 48% of his 3 point attempts this year and senior Darius Miller is hitting 40%. You probably don’t want to dare those guys to shoot. In fact, just last night Georgia decided they were going to dare Kentucky to beat them from deep. What happened? Well, after UK hit a 3 on six straight possessions the Bulldogs needed a new gameplan. What about free throws? That was the problem with Calipari’s 2008 Memphis team. Again, you’re going to be disappointed. Kentucky is making 72% of their free throws as a team. The worst shooter from the line is Terrance Jones at 65%. Every other regular player hits over 70%.
What about when the game is close and Kentucky needs a basket? Well that’s what they like to call “Miller Time.” Kentucky native and senior Darius Miller has seen it all in his four years and is ice-cold at the end of games. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, Darius is hitting 15 of 20 field goals and 13-14 free throws when a team is within five points with less than ten minutes to go.
Hate to break it to you guys, but Kentucky is simply better than your team. Anyone who doesn’t think they will win it is simply wishing it to be the case. There is no logical or intelligent argument that can be made otherwise. Feel free to try to in the comments though.