NCAA Tournament Sweet 16: Can Anyone Beat Kentucky?

Corey TaylorCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 20:  DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 20, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Last week we saw the start of what could be an amazing finish to this year's tournament. There were plenty of mind-boggling upsets. Who saw UNI beating Kansas? Hardly anyone. I for one was crushed by the Bobcats of Ohio University when they knocked out one of my four Final Four teams in Georgetown.

Some teams have looked sketchy to start and lost because of it. Others have been just as predicted. The Kentucky Wildcats have been one of those teams.  They have looked unbeatable in the first two rounds much like they have all season long.  John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins have been lights out and Eric Bledsoe is stepping up in the tournament as well. Which brings up the question: Can Kentucky be beat?

John Calipari has four more games to win before he can hoist a trophy he has been waiting to hold since he began coaching. He has seen Final Fours and he has even seen a championship game but he has never won it all.  This Kentucky team could be the team to grant him his wish. 

If they are going to do it they will need to take the slippers off of Cinderella who comes in the form of Cornell. Maybe the best three-point shooting team in the tournament in years.  They shot 44 percent from behind the arc during the season which gives them a better three-point shooting percentage then some college teams' actual field goal percentage.

Calipari made the perfect statement on Mike and Mike In The Morning on ESPN saying, "If they come out and hit twenty three's it has been a good season." Meaning Kentucky will not be able to hang with a team who is capable of doing just that.  Defense wins championships and it will have to come Thursday night if UK wants to continue its dream season.

Granted Kentucky is a much more talented team and could very well steamroll the Big Red but Cornell has shown all season long they are not to be taken lightly or you will get burned.  It is an exciting match to look at.  Cornell will most likely be unable to defend the speed and athleticism Kentucky will bring to the table. Which places the ball in Kentucky's court. Lazy defense will not be allowed on Thursday night. Every shot will have to be contested or the Wildcats could be packing their bags early just like Kansas and Villanova.

If the Wildcats get past that game which I do believe they will and guessing West Virgina beats upset minded Washington then you will have a game between two great teams.  As I stated in my previous article, Bob Huggins versus John Calipari will be a clash of the titans in the coaching arena.  Both coaches know how to win and are expert game planners.  The only coaching matchup UK fans would rather see is Coach K versus Coach Cal.  Which they could end up receiving.

I think West Virginia poses a much greater threat to the Wildcats than do the Blue Devils. The Mountaineers are just as athletic and just as talented as the Wildcats.  They also posses the speed to keep crafty guards Eric Bledsoe and John Wall in check. West Virginia is the team that Kentucky does not want to see but it is a game the entire country would be salivating to watch.

The Wildcats are beatable but the teams that play them need to get out to a lead early. If you get stuck playing at Kentucky's run and gun tempo known as the dribble drive motion offense then, like every team has found out before in this tournament, you have a large mountain to climb. 

When Kentucky gets down early they tend to panic a little bit giving their opponents an edge.  Look for the next four games for the 'Cats to be very close and we shall see how the Wildcats respond to adversity on the largest scale in their sport.  If they respond as they have in most close games this season, banner number eight could be heading back to the mecca of college basketball and being raised in Rupp Arena.