In case you didn’t notice, Kentucky is really, really good. That’s an obvious statement about college basketball’s No. 1 team, but it’s true. The scary part is the Wildcats seem to be getting better.
Ever since Kentucky’s lone loss of the season (a 73-72 Indiana win that came on a last-second 3-pointer), it’s rolled through opponents on a regular basis, including its SEC foes. There have been a few close games (Tennessee, Alabama), but those are the exceptions.
Blowouts are the rule.
According to John Gasaway (ESPN Insider, sorry for the pay link), the ‘Cats are outscoring opponents by an average of .28 points per possession, meaning they basically beat everyone by about 18 points. Yes, some of those games includes matchups against the likes of Auburn, LSU and South Carolina, but that’s dominance.
It starts with the defense. Kentucky has the game’s most intimidating shot-blocker (Anthony Davis, with apologies to Fab Melo), its most versatile defender (freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), a bruiser who does a little of everything (Terrence Jones) and guys who can fill roles as needed (everyone needs a Darius Miller). The ‘Cats somehow don’t have the nation’s most efficient defense (that’s Ohio State), but I don’t care. Kentucky’s is the best.
And the offense is just as good. The ‘Cats take care of the ball, hit from everywhere on the court and crash the boards. Do those three things and your offense is nearly impossible to stop. That’s why Gasaway call Kentucky the most dominant team John Calipari’s had – a mix of the 2010 and 2011 teams that went a combined 64-12.
Or, summarized thusly from Glenn Logan at A Sea of Blue:
The bottom line: This is what a national title contender looks like. Forget the rankings, they are somewhat superficial as so many have reminded us during the year. What we are seeing now is a team that isn’t just good, it is truly a superior basketball team — but only in the present. If they can continue this kind of play, or even improve on it (scary, I know, but I firmly believe the Wildcats have yet to reach their potential), this season could become even more fun than it is now.
I’d buy that. Kentucky and Ohio State are the game’s two best teams. The Wildcats are younger and probably have more room to improve between now and March. They also could hit a wall – starting tonight vs. Florida – like many freshman-laden teams do, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Not with how hard they play. Not with their defense. And not with that talent.
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