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Kentucky Basketball: What Experts Say About Wildcats' NCAA Tournament Chances

KNOXVILLE, TN - JANUARY 14: Anthony Davis #23 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrate at the end of the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena on January 14, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Kentucky defeated Tennessee 65-62. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Tim DanielsFeatured Columnist IVApril 14, 2015

Kentucky enters the NCAA tournament as the top overall seed after a dominating regular season. Led by Anthony Davis, the Wildcats have racked up 32 wins and just two losses. It wouldn't surprise anybody to see them cutting down the nets in New Orleans.

College basketball experts are weighing in on how they believe Kentucky will fare. Let's take a look at some of the most prominent ones and break them down.

 

Andy Katz of ESPN

Kentucky is the favorite, but this is no easy road to the Final Four. The Wildcats are in a bracket with multiple dangerous teams, including Connecticut/Wichita State, even before they could possibly get to Baylor or Duke. Baylor has the length to match Kentucky more than any other team in this region.

I disagree with Katz when it comes to Connecticut. The Huskies aren't nearly as good as they were last season and will be lucky to defeat Iowa State, let alone the Wildcats.

He's right to say Kentucky is in a tough region. Other than Duke, Wichita State deserved a higher seed after a terrific year and Baylor has the athleticism to match up with the Wildcats. Even teams like Indiana and UNLV aren't pushovers. The South Region is probably the most competitive.

That will pose some problems along the way, but they will be battle-tested for the Final Four if they survive the region.

 

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports

John Calipari has had more talented teams at Kentucky. He has had more experienced teams. Better depth. Better backcourts.

But Calipari has never had a team better equipped to win the national title than this one, his third of three star-filled rosters since taking the Kentucky job in 2009.

Doyel hits the nail on the head. Kentucky has everything you look for in a potential national champion. Davis gives them a go-to guy in crunch time. Doron Lamb can knock down the outside shot to keep defenses honest. And there are no fewer than five other contributors who can make big plays.

While there's no discounting the Wildcats' status as favorites, it does add another level of pressure on Calipari's shoulders. If he's not able to navigate his current roster to a title, the inevitable questions about his ability to win the big one will arise.

 

John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader

National champion

Kentucky. Cue spooky music. In 1950-51, UK had lost one game in the regular season by one point before Adolph Rupp's team lost to Vanderbilt in the championship game of the SEC Tournament. UK won the national title. In 1996, a one-loss Kentucky team lost in the SEC Tournament finals in New Orleans. And UK won the national title. Those historic vibes are just too strong.

The Wildcats are expected to win for a reason. They have more ability than any other team in the country. As long as they don't suffer any shocking letdowns, which are far less likely because of the team's plentiful star power, a national title is within reach.

Their biggest hurdles will be Baylor, Missouri and Kansas. Each team poses a different problem, but none should worry the Wildcats. They are six games from a championship and it would take an extraordinary effort to knock them off.

Living up to the hype is never easy, but Kentucky will do just that in the Big Dance.

 

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