Friday, March 27, 2015

Can Anybody Stop the Kentucky Wildcat's Juggernaut in March Madness?


In the Bluegrass State known for thoroughbred
champions, UK has that championship "pedigree"

Thirty-seven teams have tried to stop the Kentucky Wildcats from making NCAA basketball history and none succeeded.  In fact, since UK won their conference, then won their conference tournament, they have been getting stronger and stronger.

In three rounds of the NCAA tourney as only the strong survive from round to round, the amazing Kentucky Cats have won by a combined 75 points, an unheard of average victory of 25 points per game.

Well, to set the record straight, Kentucky already has the longest unbeaten streak in tournament history.  Indiana was the last unbeaten national champion thirty-nine years ago, in 1976, and they were the team tied for the most wins in history with a 32-0 record.

UCLA had four unbeaten teams during the John Wooden era from 1964-1973 when they won ten national titles, but they were 30-0 each time.  Only two other teams in NCAA history finished unbeaten, North Carolina in 1957 (32-0) and San Francisco in 1956 (29-0) finished unbeaten.

Kentucky has never finished unbeaten, even during the eight years they won they national championship.  However, in their 113 years of NCAA basketball they have the best record of all college teams with 2,214 victories and 672 losses in 2,886 games.

In the jargon of the Bluegrass State known for thoroughbred champions, the UK Wildcats have the "pedigree" to pull off the impossible, finish off winning the national title with a 40-0 record.

Coach John Calipari should have been named NCAA coach of the year, even his chief rival Rick Pitino from Louisville agrees.  However, there is an anti-Kentucky bias because of his "one and done" policy of recruiting and starting freshmen, recognizing they would jump to the NBA at the earliest possible moment.

Ironically, in this his sixth year at UK, so many freshmen returned he incorporate a platoon system to give the top ten players equal playing time, an act requiring the athletes to forgo personal statistics for the good of the team.  In this day and age teaching college basketball stars to be humble, team oriented and unselfish is rare indeed.

A "players-first" coach with a penchant for helping people reach their dreams, John Calipari has guided five teams to the Final Four, led one to a national championship and helped 31 players make it to the NBA during his 22-year college coaching career.

Calipari reached the mountaintop in his third year in Lexington, guiding Kentucky to its eighth national championship and his first national title. He is one of only two coaches to lead three different schools to a Final Four (UMass-1996; Memphis-2008; Kentucky-2011, 2012, 2014).

The Wildcats rode the trademark hard-nosed Calipari defense to the 2012 title, finishing the season as the nation's top-ranked team in field-goal percentage defense and blocked shots.

Following a 3.4 grade-point average in the 2013 spring semester -- the highest in Coach Cal's tenure at UK -- the Wildcats' scholarship players posted a 3.11 GPA for the second consecutive semester in the 2014 fall semester. It marked the seventh time in the last eight semesters Coach Cal's team earned a 3.0 or better.

As someone who prides himself on helping young men reach their dreams, he has placed 31 players in the NBA during his college coaching career, including 19 over his first five seasons at Kentucky. The 19 picks over that five-season span is the most of any coach.

So here we are, UK may be playing for the national title for the third time in three years, if only they can win three more games.  I say history awaits the Kentucky Wildcats and that no one will stop the Kentucky juggernaut.

No comments: