Kentucky’s an ‘overwhelming’ favorite to win it all

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Oddsmakers aren’t the only ones who think Kentucky will roll to the national title. Most computer simulations and some coaches couldn’t agree more.

The Wildcats were the overwhelming result when Jeff Sagarin ran four billion simulations of the remaining games, USA Today reports. (How many results count as “overwhelming” when you run four billion simulations, I don’t know.) Ken Pomeroy estimated Kentucky’s chances of winning it all at 42 percent. Ohio State’s were 34 percent.

But what about a coach’s perspective? St. John’s played Kentucky and Louisville this season and lost to both. What would assistant Tony Chiles say?

“I think Kentucky wins it going away,” Chiles told the N.Y. Times. “They’re just so long and so athletic.”

If the Wildcats played the Buckeyes in Monday’s title game, Mike Colbert of Cantor Gaming in Las Vegas says they’d be a 2-1 favorite. And that might be kind to Ohio State.

From USA Today:

“The biggest buzz that I can remember before this is the UNLV team with Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon (that beat Duke 103-73 for the title) in 1990,” he said. “That was bigger. There was no chance they were going to lose.

“Quite frankly I think this Kentucky team is a little better. The way Kentucky plays together, they are probably the most unselfish team I’ve seen in quite some time. They literally have five NBA players on the floor at all times, which is unheard of, but the way they play defense and the way they play together … there’s not one selfish player on the court. … I’d be very, very surprised if they get beat. I have to give (John) Calipari credit. This has been his best coaching job by a mile.”

It’s interesting that Colbert used 1990 UNLV as an example when nearly every college basketball fan and pundit would place the 1991 team as the superior Rebels squad.

But then, the fate of that ’91 squad is pretty well known. I’d say that’s the answer.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.