When was the last time we’ve seen a men’s college basketball team as dominant as this year’s Kentucky team? I have to think back to the 90’s and one of those UNLV Running Rebels team under coach Tark. What a team he had led by Larry Johnson, Stacy Augmon, Greg Anthony, George Ackles and Anderson Hunt. How special was that UNLV team? Three of its players have had their jerseys retired by UNLV – Larry Johnson, Stacy Augmon, and Greg Anthony. But, as us older Kandy gents are aware the best UNLV team from ’90-’91 (they went undefeated in the regular season) lost in the Final Four semi-finals to a Duke squad led by Christian Laettner, Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley. Will Kentucky be able to accomplish what that UNLV could not, and no team has been able to do since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers and that is go through an entire season, including the post-season, undefeated?
Before we attempt to answer that question, let’s look at some of the wins this season by Kentucky – 32 points over Kansas, 14 points over North Carolina, 39 points over UCLA, 49 points over Missouri. This year’s Kentucky squad is led by Aaron Harrison, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. The team has been pushed a couple times this year to overtime but when they needed to make the plays they stepped up. Kentucky, at the time I am writing this, has two tough games left on its schedule before post-season tournament play. They play #18 Arkansas and unranked Florida, who can never be considered a gimme, despite their record this year.
Surveying the expected field of top seeds in this year’s NCAA tournament, their toughest competition appears to be from teams out of the Mid-west, South and East. Wisconsin’s physicality could provide match-up problems and possible foul trouble if they meet up. Duke is always a post-season threat and their current #4 ranking has them in line for a number 1 seed. Virginia appears to be the most polished team in the nation and the best bet to topple Kentucky but don’t overlook the Villanova Wildcats. Could we be looking at an all Wildcats National Final? Perhaps, if the brackets break out correctly. It’s a little early for me to make a Final Four prediction. I want to see how the remainder of the regular season finishes up as well as how the league tournaments play out. But, if you were to ask me today who have good odds at winding up with number 1 seeds I would have to say Kentucky, Duke, Virginia, and Villanova. And, the answer to the question, will Kentucky be the first team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to go undefeated? Well, I’ll leave that to you the college basketball fans to decide.
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