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The Kentucky Wildcats Are The Best Defensive Team, But Will It Last?

Ken Pomeroy's site shows a significant and increasing margin between Kentucky and it's nearest competitors when it comes to defense.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

I was going to put this in the Quickies, but I decided it deserved a post all it’s own. Checking Ken Pomeroy’s site today, I discovered that Kentucky is now allowing under 82 points per 100 possessions in adjusted defensive efficiency. Here’s the ranking of some of the top teams by DE on KenPom as of today:

Pomeroy top ten defense 20150105

The Louisville Cardinals have slipped a bit due to their close victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons yesterday.. The Virginia Cavaliers are 5 full points worse than the Wildcats despite the recent notoriety they have achieved, which they doubtless deserved. But the ‘Hoos got every inch of what they could handle from the Davidson Wildcats and more recently, the Miami-Florida Hurricanes. Davidson lit up the Cavaliers offensively, and only the outstanding work Virginia did on both the offensive and defensive glass made this game a relatively comfortable 11-point win. Had Davidson been able to rebound a little better, they may well have had a late chance to win the game.

The Miami game in Coral Gables was even closer still, with Virginia requiring a double-overtime to finally dispatch the Hurricanes. What was interesting about that game was that Virgina took an 18-point lead into the half. You know what they say about the halftime score — it’s the most irrelevant score of all — and that turned out to be the case for Cavaliers.

Now, there are two points to be taken away here. The first is that no matter how good Kentucky looks statistically in this snapshot, one game can change that significantly only 13 or 14 games into the season, and a hot shooting team like Davidson or a tough road contest could threaten Kentucky just as well as they did Virginia and Louisville.

The second is that defense is probably the most difficult statistic to be consistently excellent at, and a lot of it is due to innovative, sharp offensive execution and hot shooters. Don’t expect Kentucky to rampage through the SEC with a sub-82 points per 100 possession defensive rating. A good number of their conference games will be on the road, and they won’t all lay bricks like the Louisville Cardinals did in their home arena. I’d be happy to finish the SEC season allowing fewer than 86 points per 100 possessions.

I have to keep constantly reminding myself, so I’ll l remind you as well in the bargin — the objective is NCAA Tournament championship #9. Being the best at any particular area of the game would be a nice bonus, but that’s what it is — a bonus. I don’t care if we go 40-0 or not as long as we win the last game of the year, and I definitely don’t care whether or not we are best-of-KenPom-era at anything.