Losing to the West Virgina Mountaineers in 2009-10 was a big downer to all of the Big Blue Nation, and one of the reasons was that many Kentucky fans could see the Kentucky Wildcats face off against the Duke Blue Devils in the national semifinal game for the right to go on and play what was ultimately the Butler Bulldogs in the national finals.
I don't believe that 2009-10 UK was looking past Bob Huggins' team in that game, but there no doubt was some anticipation of the possible matchup between the two blue-bloods. It had been a long time, since 2001 in fact, since the Blue Devils and the Wildcats had met each other on the hardwood. It excited fans of both schools at the possibility, but nobody wanted to look past their instant opponents.
In the end, it would be West Virgina who would face, and fall, to the Blue Devils, who went on to dodge a last-second rim-out by Gordon Hayward to win the 2010 NCAA Tournament championship. But what would have happened if UK had won versus the 'Eers? WhatIfSports will give us their version of how it all worked out, after the jump.
What we did this time is the same thing we did last time -- play a 7-game fantasy series between the Dookies and the 'Cats. The results were:
|2009-10 Duke vs. 2009-10 Kentucky|
|Overall Shooting Percentages|
|Final series winner: Duke, 4-3|
Ugh. Obviously, this is not what I'd hoped to see, and I have no doubt that if I did this same exercise again, it could well work out different. A 4-3 series could have come down to one press of the button, but alas, I feel compelled to report the results faithfully and without attempting to justify my own perceptions by gaming the system.
What defeated Kentucky in this simulation was free-throw shooting, something ironically familiar to John Calipari-coached teams. In reality, though, it wasn't the percentages as much as it was the number of times Duke got to the line. The Blue Devils shot 27 more free throws, almost 4 more per game on average, than Kentucky did. In another irony, this plays right into the widely-held perception that Duke gets all the calls. They got them all in this simulation as well.
There is no doubt I would rather lose to West Virgina than to Duke, especially since they went on to win the tournament. Be that as it may, I'd much rather Patrick Patterson, John Wall, and DeMarcus Cousins had the chance to try and beat the odds against the Blue Devils that year.
Despite what this simulation says, I still believe that UK would have won that matchup. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.