Pick the Kentucky Wildcats in your Bracket? Why and Why Not

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Are you toying with the idea of picking this Kentucky basketball team to win it all in your bracket pool? Well, there’s a strong case both for and against doing so, and we’ll explore each side of the coin here. After all:

The test of a firstrate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

This college basketball season we have no elite teams, but a lot of very good ones. There are about 10-12 teams that we can see having a legitimate shot at the national championship, but at the same time no clear favorite. You really can’t even limit the field of favorites down to less than five. It’s looking more and more like a season in which a program will get its first national title and/or a team seeded below #4 and above #8 might win it all.

kentucky basketball

Press that Button/Write ’em In:

When you put Kentucky basketball, in the era of John Calipari, in a tournament, any tournament, they raise their game up. They absolutely crushed it on Friday and Saturday in the SEC Tournament, especially on the defensive end. Their defense shut down Georgia to season lows in the quarterfinals (UGA Coach Mark Fox was fired shortly thereafter) and strongly contained Collin Sexton, currently the hottest player in the nation, during the semi-finals.

UK held Bama to just 19 points in the first half, and if they continue defending like this, they’ll be a tough out for anybody, even the top seeds, in this tournament.

As they told us in Hamilton: “It must be nice, it must be niiiiiiiice, to have Washington on your side!” P.J. Washington, along with Kevin Knox, are the keys to the Cats offense. When they’re on, so are the Cats. Another Kentucky basketball player to keep an eye on is Wenyen Gabriel, the “elder statesman,” of the team. He had a grand total of 33 SEC Tournament minutes played entering this year’s conference tournament.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has also emerged, conveying the perfect embodiment of “work ethic” and “self-determination.” He could be the team’s leadership model on the floor this NCAA Tournament.

wenyen-gabriel

Pick Somebody Else:

As you’ve heard ad nauseam during any national telecast of Kentucky basketball this season, this is a very young team, even by Coach Cal era standard. This is probably the youngest team Calipari has ever had, but oh so talented. It looks like the Cats are all coming together now, but wow have they had some really poor outings this season. Some nights (like the Vanderbilt game) really down looked bad on both ends of the floor at times this season. 

Although their are McDonald’s All-Americans everywhere, it’s clear from the 2017-18 Kentucky basketball season that a lot of these guys were a bit overrated by the recruiting industrial complex. It’s not their fault, at all, but eventually we as a people need to stand up to the Big Recruiting Service lobby.

This Wildcats team doesn’t have the individual star power of the 2012 national championship team, the 2015 38-1 team or the 2014 runner-up team (which may have lost to the worst coach to ever win a national championship).

kevin knox

The Road Ahead:

This Kentucky basketball team has a major roadblock potentially awaiting them in the second with Deandre Ayton and Arizona. The big man was on an absolute tear in the Pac 12 tournament, and although UK is one of the few teams with the size and length to match-up, he’s a nightmare for anyone to game plan against. They will also likely have to contend with the tournament’s overall top seed, Virginia in a Sweet 16 game, and Tony Bennett’s team is obviously not one that anybody wants to face right now.

7:10 p.m. CBS Boise III (12) Davidson vs. (5) Kentucky Anderson / Webber // Byington

Bottom Line:

UK is favored by 7 for their opening round game, but despite being a #5 seed, they’ve been given the 11th best odds of anyone in the field at 23/1. They could make a run like the ’14 team, who went to the national title game as a #8 seed. When you have 17 Final Fours and eight national championships, you’re always in contention to win it all. That said though, I would lay my bet on another team.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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