Good wins: vs. Vanderbilt, vs. Mississippi, vs. Louisville, vs. Connecticut (Neutral), Florida (twice).
Bad losses: at South Carolina
Talent: Kentucky may be the most athletic and talented team in the country. The Wildcats are led by three freshmen in John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. Wall and Cousins lead the team in scoring. Wall averages 17 points and 6.2 assists, while Cousins averages a double- double; 15.9 points and 10.1 rebounds. There may not be a team in the country that can match up athletically with Kentucky. Wall and Bledsoe have the speed and quickness to break almost any defense down and the ability to get to the rim.
Rebounding: The Wildcats rank third the country in rebounding margin, out-rebounding their opponents by 9.1 per game. Cousins and senior Patrick Patterson may make up the best one-two punch inside in the nation. Along with Cousins’ 10.1 rebounds per game, Patterson averages 7.6.
Offensive efficiency: Kentucky leads the SEC in scoring, averaging 79.9 points per game. But what’s more impressive about how many points the Wildcats score is how efficiently they do it: They lead the league in field goal percentage (47.8 percent) and three-point percentage (34.6 percent). The Wildcats also have a very balanced scoring attack with four starters averaging in double figures.
Youth: This may be the area that holds Kentucky back from a national championship. Patrick Patterson is the only senior in the starting lineup, along with three freshmen and a sophomore.
Three-point shooting: Kentucky has struggled mightily from the three-point line, making them susceptible to any team that plays a zone defense. Wall is shooting just 33.3 percent, while Bledsoe is shooting 35.2.
Kentucky also turns it over at a high rate, averaging 14.7 turnovers per game, and struggles from the free-throw line – the Wildcats shoot just 68.2 percent. These are three areas that could come back to haunt Kentucky come March.
The Wildcats are safe to get a number one seed. What will separate them from a final four appearance or national championship may simply come down to the hunger factor for these players. With Wall, Bledsoe, Cousins, and Patterson assured of being first round picks, does this team really want an NCAA championship or are they just looking towards the NBA?
Final Four: The Wildcats should breeze through the first two rounds before getting tested in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. Kentucky’s fate could come down to matchups. Their only losses, against South Carolina and Tennessee, came to teams that slowed the game down as much as possible, forcing Kentucky to play a half-court game. A slow-tempo team could throw the Wildcats off but any team that tries to run with Kentucky does so at their peril. The Wildcats also looked a little lost and rushed when they had to play from behind against South Carolina. Wall’s poise and leadership may be the deciding factor as to whether the Wildcats will be cutting the nets down in Indianapolis.