Is Kentucky Unbeatable?
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Is Kentucky Unbeatable?

The one question on everyone's mind heading into postseason play of college basketball.

Is Kentucky Unbeatable?

The question of the 2014-2015 college basketball season has not evolved or changed since day 1: Is the University of Kentucky unbeatable? So far, the answer has proven to be an overwhelming yes. Kentucky ran the table during the regular season, sporting a 31-0 record, 18-0 in conference play. Now, the question expands to the dramatic, enigmatic, encapsulating month of March basketball and if they can sustain their unbeaten record through 40 games.

Kentucky leads the nation in point differential (+21.2) and is second in the country in points allowed per game (53.4). Their formula to win involves nine former McDonald's All-Americans, and a plethora of future NBA stars. On paper, it gives the impression of a Disney-style cruise for Kentucky through the regular season. And for the most part that analogy would hold. However, the Wildcats have had their fair share of scares since the start of the new year. Back to back overtime games to start conference play had Big Blue Nation on frits, questioning their “reinforcements" and platoon substitution system. Each game Kentucky received everyone's best punches and everyone's best efforts and prevailed in a winning fashion. However, as the country learned throughout the season, anyone can be beaten, and Kentucky is no different. Any team matching up against Kentucky will have to prepare and execute game plans and play perfectly, but Kentucky is NOT unbeatable.

If there is one thing the NCAA Tournament has taught us in the past, it is that upsets happen anywhere and everywhere. No one is safe from a team of destiny or a Cinderella running after their magic pumpkin before the clock strikes 12. This is not a recent phenomenon. Throughout the history of the tournament, upsets have occurred far and wide across the span of decades (Throwback to Texas Western over UK in 1965, Villanova over Georgetown in 1985). Take two previously undefeated teams entering the NCAA Tournament in the past 30 years: 1991 UNLV and 2014 Wichita State. UNLV lost in the Final Four to eventual national champion Duke, and Wichita early in the second round to (guess who?) Kentucky. Going undefeated in the regular season has no effect on tournament implications. Scratch that, no record matters once March Madness begins. Seeding in the tournament hardly matters anymore. On any day, the stakes and expectations are so high, one team can pull off an improbable upset over an overly fated opponent.

If there is one thing the Kentucky men's basketball team lacks, it is experience. Surprise, surprise! In a modern era of one and done basketball, Kentucky is not alone to implement a team stacked with highly sought after high schoolers with much higher aspirations past college basketball. And while this style and talent is successful in the regular season, the past has shown viewers that talent alone cannot carry a team to a national title. I know Kentucky was in the national title game last year, and several players returned from that team (Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress). But remember that only the Harrison twins are active and have true experience in the NCAA Tournament. Poythress is gone for the season and Cauley-Stein was injured through Kentucky's magical 2014 NCAA run. It helps completely to have important players who have played in the tournament before. Two UCONN greats showed us that in the past four years. Kemba Walker led an upstart Huskie lineup through and past heavily favored teams in 2011, and Shabazz Napier, which is still the best name ever, powered another Huskie team in almost duplicate fashion to an NCAA Tournament victory, reminding everyone that it isn't always about talent. Age is better than beauty.

If there is one thing all college basketball teams endure, it is a variety of outcomes. Some win, some lose. Some win easily, some lose in horrible fashion. Lucky for Kentucky, they have not yet lost one of their competitions. However, that does not mean the season has been a walk in the park on a warm spring day. Two of the affairs have been extended to overtime, and they have survived close, hostile road games. LSU and Florida kept pace and point total virtually even down to the last minutes. Kentucky has always found a way to stay composed, and make enough plays to exit victorious. But we've seen Kentucky battled and tested, even on their home floor, and I expect nothing different in the next month of play.

If there is one thing we've learned from this article, it is Kentucky is not unbeatable. Well, that is for you to decide and contemplate as college basketball enters championship week and the NCAA Tournament. March Madness always provides surprises, upsets, and unforgettable memories. Anything can happen on any day. Any opponent will have to play their best basketball of the season to beat this Kentucky team; there is no debating that. But it can be done in the next month. Do not trust any team as an easy pass to the Final Four, anyone can be beaten, and no one is unbeatable in March.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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