Kentucky Basketball: 4 Reasons Nobody Will Knock off the Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats are once again atop the B/R Top 25. This marks the third straight week that the Cats can claim the No. 1 ranking. Now, the question becomes whether Kentucky will maintain its No. 1 ranking through the rest of the season.
In its next seven games, Kentucky plays Mississippi State once and Vanderbilt and Florida twice. Those five games will be essential in determining whether Kentucky stays atop the rankings. Condolences to Mississippi and Georgia, but chances are they will not topple the Wildcats in Rupp Arena.
Here are the four reasons as to why those three teams will be unable to defeat the Kentucky Wildcats in their upcoming games.
4. Home Winning Streak
John Calipari hasn't lost at Rupp Arena. Kentucky's NCAA-leading home win streak currently sits at 48 games.
Florida and Vanderbilt will threaten that statistic when they visit Lexington on Feb. 7 and Feb. 25, respectively. If Kentucky continues to play well on offense, the Cats should extend their streak.
Mississippi and Georgia will also visit Rupp Arena in the next month. Both are decent teams at home, but have one conference win on the road put together. That win was Mississippi playing at Georgia. Go figure. If one of these two teams upset Kentucky at home, it will be the monumental upset of the season.
3. Margin of Victory
Kentucky's margin of victory is 20.5 points per game. That cushion is key for a team that has had a history of starting slow on the road.
When Kentucky visits Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, chances are the Wildcats won't win by 20 points. Fortunately, that margin of victory is heavily influenced by their defensive dominance, which allows for a decent margin of error.
Kentucky plays its best when Doron Lamb scores 15 or more points. Kentucky can expect to win significantly if Lamb is on his game.
2. Defensive Dominance
If Kentucky does have an off night shooting the basketball, and heaven forbid if it's on the road, it will still be in the game because of its defense. The aforementioned margin of victory is heavily swayed by defense.
On the road, Kentucky won't be counting on making over 50 percent of its shots like it did against South Carolina on Feb. 4. It will be imperative for Kentucky to avoid foul trouble, like it has all year, to win games.
Both the front court and back court of the Wildcats will be tested in their last seven games. Florida and Vanderbilt have excellent guard play, while Mississippi State has a dominant low-post presence in Arnett Moultrie. All three of these teams are deeper than Kentucky, but not one can match Kentucky's talent.
Who will question that Kentucky is arguably the most talented team in the nation? This team is considered to be John Calipari's best team yet. The team's top six are unquestionably the best in the nation, and one could make an argument for top seven.
The scary thought with this team is that it is just hitting its stride. Three straight dominant games against LSU, Tennessee and South Carolina show what this Kentucky team is capable of. Offensively, the Wildcats looked much smoother and had consistent open looks, something you couldn't say was true earlier in the year.
Kentucky is 23-1 because of its talent. Calipari has done a phenomenal job of turning such a young team into a cohesive unit, and it is continuing to improve. Marquis Teague has put together a string of four games with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and Terrence Jones has returned to his SEC-preseason-player-of-the-year form.
If Kentucky keeps playing with this sense of urgency on offense, it will be near impossible to beat. That makes the Wildcats near impossible to dethrone from their perch atop the rankings.