Kentucky Basketball: 5 Biggest Threats to Kentucky Wildcats Budding Dynasty
Back-to-back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight, two Final Fours and a national championship have people talking dynasty in the Bluegrass State. And who's to blame them? Ambition is a quality that no member of the Big Blue Nation lacks.
John Calipari brings in wave after wave of talented freshmen. One-and-done seasons at Kentucky have resulted in one Elite Eight and a Final Four. Last year, two of these professional prospects stayed in school and will leave with a ring.
In the next few years, Kentucky has the chance to solidify itself as one of the most dominant teams in recent memory. Calipari has built Kentucky into a powerhouse in three short years. The players have come and gone, but the program is stronger than ever.
The machine that Calipari has created has been stopped before. The loss to West Virginia in 2010 proved that. John Wall and company were just as talented as the 2012 team, but were beaten by a hot team during a cold shooting night.
Here are the five biggest threats to the Kentucky dynasty.
One and Done
The rule that fuels the Kentucky engine may also lead to the demise of this budding dynasty.
Because the NBA forces talented high school seniors to come to school, players are forced to choose schools that give them the best chance to improve their draft stock. Whether that is through national exposure, early playing time or a quality NBA-preparing coach, these teenagers want the fast track.
And while Kentucky gives these players an instant, high-profile stage, John Calipari runs the risk of losing everything and gaining nothing. While the odds are slim to none that such an event would occur, the possibility is there.
Take, for example, the 2010-11 Kentucky team. Six players made up the majority of the roster, and if Brandon Knight went to Florida, the team wouldn't have made the Final Four.
Of course, this is hypothetical. But it could happen in the future. The dependence on Knight coming to Kentucky is what makes Calipari's operation a risky business. As long as there is fresh talent in Lexington, Kentucky will be fine.
Ambition drives Kentucky fans into expecting a national title every year. And why not? UCLA fans should expect to win their 12th title in 2013 and Duke fans should expect to win their fifth.
Confidence isn't the problem. The problem is that the odds are against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Of course, this depends on your interpretation of the term "dynasty." Is it a dynasty to make the Elite Eight three years in a row? Was Duke's run of five Final Fours, from 1988-1992, a dynasty?
Duke was. Kentucky isn't. Yet.
If, in the next three years, Kentucky repeats their success and makes the Elite Eight three years in a row with a national championship thrown in, then Kentucky could be considered a dynasty.
The odds are against the Wildcats from a repeat title in 2013. It could happen. But if you were asked to pick Kentucky or the field in 2013, who would you choose?
The field is improving, which doesn't help the Wildcats' odds.
The field is improving. Just look at Kentucky rivals like Indiana and Louisville.
Tom Crean has the Hoosiers in contention for a top five rank in the polls next year, as does Rick Pitino for Louisville.
Indiana certainly has staying power atop the rankings because of Cody Zeller anchoring the inside for what may be the next three years. Louisville is being dubbed by many, including Dick Vitale, as the top team in the 2012-13 season.
Those two teams are two early favorites for the 2013 national championship. Both pose significant threats to Kentucky repeating next year.
Chances are, Kentucky won't be losing the SEC tournament and winning the NCAA tournament every year.
Conference play provides a great barometer for how well a team will play in the postseason. There is a reason why the Big East has been represented in each of the past four Final Fours, and eight of the past 10. The Big East is one of the best basketball conferences.
Only one team, however, has represented the Big East in the Final Four more than twice since 2000. That school is Connecticut, and although they were dominant in 2004, no one would consider their run in the past 13 years as a "dynasty."
Tennessee is improving. Florida and Vanderbilt will always have solid basketball programs. Frank Martin will look to instill a winning attitude in South Carolina, and the two newest additions to the conference, Missouri and Texas A&M, aren't basketball pushovers.
Kentucky may struggle more in conference compared to the last three years, where they went a combined 40-8. Increased competition in-conference will help the SEC as a whole, but may not help Kentucky.
John Calipari has that monkey off of his back after winning the 2012 national championship.
But there will still be pressure on Kentucky to win. That's what drove Tubby Smith out in 2007, even though he never won less than 22 games.
At Kentucky, coaches and teams are expected to perform at a high level. Losses at Rupp Arena shouldn't happen. Players are under the microscope as much as the coach, and some personalities aren't fit for the position.
Calipari is certainly fit to be the head coach. He and his players have yet to fold under pressure thus far. But there may be seasons where the pressure may be too much for his underclassmen to handle.
The 2012 Kentucky Wildcats were built on the backbone of rugged players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Not every team will have a player like MKG to fall back on.
Kentucky could certainly be the next dynasty in college hoops. Recruiting classes will have to be on point, a bit of luck would be needed to defeat rival teams and prevent injuries, but most of all, the team must be prepared to play for the winningest college basketball program in history.
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