After cruising through the regular season, the Kentucky Wildcats earned the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, despite slipping up in the SEC Championship game against the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Now they are sitting atop a South Region that is riddled with potential stumbling blocks for the top team in the nation, including a potential rematch with one of the two teams they lost to, the Indiana Hoosiers.
The Wildcats are full of talent and John Calipari has arguably his most talented squad yet, but they aren't without weaknesses.
Kentucky Wildcats Tournament Scouting Report
- Great Length
- Amazing Talent
- Great Post Size
- Great Rebounding
- Played Strong Schedule
- Solid Spacing
- Good Free Throw Shooting
- Avoid Fouls
One could probably go on all day about the strengths of this Wildcats team, but the key one is that they are just simply more talented than every other team in the field.
Anthony Davis is arguably the best player in the nation and he is surrounded by a balanced group. Davis is the dominate physical force in the paint, but has shown the ability to step out to the perimeter and not only set screens, but also to hit the open three.
When you look at the team around Davis, there is Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, and Darius Miller. Every single one of these guys not only has NBA-level talent, but also NBA bodies. It's a physical team that is going to contest shots and get rebounds.
Not only did Kentucky play in an SEC with some other solid teams in it, they also challenged themselves out of conference with six games against other tournament teams, including a neutral site game against Kansas and an away game against Indiana. This is huge for a team with youth and it has paid off big time.
- Young Overall
- Inconsistent Defense
- Poor Rotation
- Inconsistent Point Guard Play
- Sloppy At Times
- Little Depth
The Wildcats may be the best team in the nation, but that doesn't mean they are flawless.
Other than Darius Miller, the rest of the Wildcats core are underclassmen, and they have shown their youth at times.
I know that the numbers don't agree with me, but the Wildcats have also played inconsistent defense at times. The main reason for this has been poor rotation. Their length, quickness, and having an eraser in the middle have helped to cover this up, but a great 3-point shooting team could exploit this weakness with good picks on the perimeter.
The other main concern for Kentucky fans is the inconsistent play of Marquis Teague.
With the exception of the three games against Florida, Teague has had a hard time against the other tournament teams he has faced. If Teague is turning the ball overall and/or shooting poorly, the Wildcats could fall short of their goal of winning a national championship.
The lack of depth on this team isn't too concerning because they've made it work all season. However, if we're being realistic, they only play six guys.
If they get challenged and pushed to the limit in their first game of the week, the second will become even that much more difficult because they don't have a bench to go to.
Chances of Winning First Game: 99.99999 percent
Let's be honest, 16 seeds never stand a chance against 1 seeds, specifically one as formidable as the Kentucky Wildcats.
It should be a cake walk for the Wildcats.
Chances of Reaching Final Four: 74 percent
That percentage might actually be a little low for my taste.
A UConn and Kentucky rematch from last year could be fun, as the Huskies are loaded with talent. I do think the rematch will occur, as I'm not a fan of the Cyclones.
Connecticut would stand a chance against Kentucky. Recently, they have been playing very well, including challenging Syracuse on two occasions.
Kentucky still has the talent though. UConn's defense is lackadaisical and though they have the talent to dominate the paint, Andre Drummond plays too soft for my liking to challenge Anthony Davis.
As for the rest of the region, is there a team that can truly challenge Kentucky?
Garrett Stutz of Wichita State and Cody Zeller of Indiana are the only big men with the skill and toughness to challenge Anthony Davis. However, the Shockers and Hoosiers don't have anywhere near the surrounding talent that the Wildcats have.
In the bottom half of the bracket, there are a few teams that actually do have enough talent to compete with Kentucky.
Duke and Baylor certainly do, and one could argue that the UNLV Rebels and Mike Moser have the talent to contend. After all, they did beat North Carolina earlier in the year.
In the end though, the only two teams with a chance are Wichita State and Indiana in my opinion. They are the only teams in this region with big men that play consistently tough.
Chances of Winning it All: 60 percent
The five toughest challenges for Kentucky in my opinion would be the aforementioned Wichita State Shockers and Indiana Hoosiers, followed by the Syracuse Orange, Georgetown Hoyas, and Vanderbilt Commodores.
Syracuse and Georgetown play some of the best zone defense in the nation and the Wildcats have been a bit inconsistent shooting the three ball. Both teams have big men that could at least slow down Anthony Davis as well. Vanderbilt has shown what they can do against Kentucky, and the Wildcats really want to avoid the Commodores in the National Championship.
Luckily for the Wildcats, Syracuse and Vanderbilt will cancel each other out, and I can't see Georgetown getting by the Kansas Jayhawks and North Carolina Tar Heels.
Kansas and North Carolina are two other teams that have already shown they can hang with Kentucky, and either of those two teams will be who I think Kentucky is on a crash course to see in New Orleans. Kentucky showed early in the season when their young talent was still generating chemistry that they can escape against the Jayhawks or UNC.
Kentucky is the number one overall seed of a reason. They are the most talented team in the nation and the favorites to walk away with the title. They have some weaknesses and will be challenged, but should end up with the title.