Kentucky Basketball: 5 Powerhouses the Wildcats Could Beat in March Madness

Matt OveringContributor IIIMarch 6, 2013

Kentucky Basketball: 5 Powerhouses the Wildcats Could Beat in March Madness

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    The Kentucky Wildcats are facing something new this season. John Calipari has not missed the NCAA tournament as head coach in Lexington, but that may change this year. 

    Should the Wildcats make the Big Dance, they'll be a team to watch. Even with Nerlens Noel on the sidelines, Kentucky has the talent to knock off top teams. 

    Kentucky would have to play out of character for this to happen, however, and these five "powerhouse" teams would have to struggle—in the same game. 

    From here on out, the Wildcats are in need of some luck. 

    But hey, it's March. Crazier things have happened, right?

    Here are five teams Kentucky could beat in the NCAA tournament.

Arizona

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    Arizona has been sliding.

    The western Wildcats are 3-4 in their last seven games, and turnovers and questionable guard play has hurt Sean Miller's squad down the stretch.

    Sound familiar?

    Kentucky has been in the same boat. Both teams don't always get the quality minutes from bench players. Both teams have score-first point guards, even when their teammates are talented. 

    Depending on the location of this game and the battle between Ryan Harrow and Mark Lyons, Kentucky could sneak out a win. 

Louisville

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    Louisville has won six straight games. 

    Rick Pitino is known for his teams peaking late in the season (just check out the Cardinals' run last year).

    So how could Kentucky win?

    Well, it's a rivalry game for one. Anything can happen. 

    Secondly, Kentucky lost at Louisville earlier this year, 80-77. On a neutral court, things might be different.

    But without Nerlens Noel down low and the Wildcats' inability to lock down perimeter scorers, Louisville would be a tough team to beat.

North Carolina

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    Oddly enough, this may be the biggest stretch.

    Kentucky and North Carolina have both struggled this season, but the Tar Heels have put together a five-game win streak.

    With games against Maryland and Duke remaining, North Carolina could be a top 10 team by tournament time.

    But Kentucky and North Carolina have faced similar problems this year. Roy Williams and John Calipari both have young teams that rush when they should be patient and struggle with effort at times.

    If Kentucky "brings it" and North Carolina does not, the Wildcats could come away with a win.

Ohio State

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    Thad Matta has a darn good basketball team.

    Ohio State has only lost to ranked (or formerly ranked) teams this season. Five of their seven losses have come on the road.

    So how could Kentucky win?

    Willie Cauley-Stein would have to play like the biggest player on the court—because he would be. Ohio State has struggled on the boards this year against bigger teams.

    Alex Poythress would have to step up to the challenge of guarding Deshaun Thomas. Ryan Harrow would have to avoid turning the ball over to the best defensive point guard in the country, Aaron Craft.

    Likely? Probably not. 

    But there's a chance. Kentucky, with all their flaws, has the talent to derail the Buckeyes.

Syracuse

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    Like Arizona, Syracuse has been falling in March. The Orange have lost their last three games.

    Granted, all three were to ranked opponents, but two were at home. 

    Jim Boeheim's team is playing out of character. Shot selection has been shoddy for the Orange lately and their scoring is reflecting that.

    If Syracuse continues down their current path and limps into the postseason, Kentucky can take them out. 

    It would take a strong shooting performance from Julius Mays and Kyle Wiltjer to break the Syracuse zone, however, and Archie Goodwin would need to make good decisions.

    That hasn't happened much this season, unfortunately. 

    The mindset for Kentucky can change in March. It's a new season, and a win-or-go home environment may fuel the Wildcats' focus.