2012 College Basketball: 5 Reasons Kentucky Won't Win the Title
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Coach John Calipari has his Kentucky Wildcats ranked No. 1 in the country.
Through the dominant play of their ridiculous freshman class, the Wildcats are hurtling toward the Big Dance with violent intentions.
However, despite their current 20-1 record and their undeniable talent, the Cats will not be cutting down the nets come April 2nd.
While there are no sure things in sports, there are five reasons I believe that Kentucky will be all danced out before the national championship.
Reason No. 1: John Calipari
Calipari has never won the big game before.
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John Calipari is good at a lot of things.
He's an outstanding recruiter. He has done a wonderful job popularizing the dribble-drive motion offense in college basketball. He's an excellent NCAA rule violator. However, what he has not done is maximizing the potential of future NBA stars.
Such is the case this year. Insisting on running the offense the same way he always has, Calipari has his best player taking less shots than three other players, with two more players right on his heels.
Anthony Davis, a likely top three selection in the next NBA draft, has a 13 percent higher field goal percentage than anyone else on the Wildcats roster, yet has taken the fourth-most shots.
He has converted nearly 30 more attempts than starting guard Marquis Teague in 17 less tries. Yet, Calipari insists that using his guards as the focal point of the offense is in the team's best interest.
This offense has failed on the biggest stage with such prolific players as Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans. How he can still refuse to involve his incredibly talented center more forcefully is beyond me.
Reason No. 2: Freshman Top Scorers
Lack of experience is a no-no for leading scorers.
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Kemba Walker. Jon Scheyer. Tyler Hansbrough. Brandon Rush. Taurean Green. Joakim Noah. Sean May. Ben Gordon.
Nice list, right? These are the leading scorers of the past eight national champions. Guess how many were freshmen. If you guessed zero, you got it. Only one was a sophomore.
The last time a freshman led a champion in scoring was on the 2002-2003 Syracuse Orange. You may have heard about him. They call him Melo.
Though Doron Lamb, a sophomore, is currently leading the Wildcats in points per game, it seems likely that either Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (or both) will overtake him by season's end.
They are both less than a point down, and both are freshman. Relying on such a young kid to lead a team in scoring night in and night out is asking a lot. If one or both of them goes cold at the wrong time, it could be lights out in a hurry. I definitely prefer to have a more experienced scorer leading my team.
Reason No. 3: History Says No. 1 Overall Seeds Don't Win
Jared Sullinger and Ohio State were the last #1 overall seed to fall.
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When the selection committee for the NCAA tournament began handing out No. 1 overall seeds in 2004, it seemed like just one more way to tell us who was going to win the tournament.
However, slapping that expectation on a team has not been kind to the kids who have to live up to it. Of the eight teams who have been burdened with the top seed, only one has risen to the challenge and won the dance...
The 2007 Florida Gators.
And that team really defied everything we know today about major college basketball. For one, they had no starting freshmen. But far more unbelievably, all five starters returned for another year after winning it all in 2006. Two members of that team were top 10 NBA draft picks and could easily have left after the '05 championship. You just don't see that anymore.
In any case, Kentucky has yet to secure the No. 1 seed, so this may be a bit of a stretch.
However, if they do get it, history tells us they are in for a tough finish.
Reason No. 4: Syracuse
Jim Boeheim's Orange could be the team to beat in March.
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For all the talent and dribble-driving going on in Lexington, there's a frightening lack of ball security and assisting.
After tonight's win against Georgia, the Wildcats are boasting an alarming 1.03 assist-to-turnover ratio. With 280 assists on the season, and 270 turnovers, they're tied for the 103rd worst ratio in the country.
While individual skill may beat up on weaker, less experienced teams, Syracuse is not of that variety. The Orange boast the most steals per game in the country, which could lead to massive headaches for the Cats young back court.
In fact, this Syracuse team looks as if it may pose very similar problems to Calipari's squad as the Kansas team that beat him in the '08 championship game. Upperclassmen Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph provide much-needed leadership, a la Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush.
Fab Melo and Dion Waiters add the youth and extra talent to push them over the top.
As a side note, Fab Melo is the kind of player who I really see giving Anthony Davis problems. Not necessarily with his offensive game, which is significantly worse than Davis' defensive prowess.
Instead, I can see Davis' rebounding and post offense being greatly nullified by Melo's pure size and positioning.
Melo isn't a great rebounder but simply keeping Davis off the boards would be a fantastic start for the Orange.
Reason No. 5: Inexperience
Freshman don't win championships, simple as that.
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Eighteen-year-old kids don't win championships. It just doesn't happen.
Basketball is a team sport, especially in the college game, where defenses aren't restricted in the schemes they use. It takes a team with a leader like Kemba Walker or Tyler Hansbrough, or a team with five returning starters like the back-to-back Florida championship squads.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a superb talent and has a great shot of being an NBA star someday. But he's not ready to make shots like the three Mario Chalmers hit to take Kansas into OT against Calipari's '08 Memphis squad.
Upperclassmen are the force that drive a team. They understand the ins and outs of the game, and they know how to control both themselves and the flow of the game. A lack of experience can have a team pressing too hard in crucial moments or unsure of who takes the last shot. A lack of experience can quickly translate to a lack of confidence in a pivotal moment.
Derrick Rose won the NBA MVP last season, but he couldn't win a national championship at Memphis. Not because he wasn't good enough, he just wasn't ready. Had he stayed, he likely would've won himself a title.
Actually, he probably would've been kicked out of school for cheating, but that's another story.