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Tyler Ulis is the Key

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Which other point guard would you rather have with five seconds on the shot clock?

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

That headline won't seem like much of a revelation to Kentucky fans, or to most serious followers of college basketball. The little guy who has won our hearts and admiration has established a level of play that has invited superlative comparisons:

First, with the great sub-6-foot guards of the modern era, like Isaiah Thomas (the current, Celtics version), Muggsy Bogues, Spud Webb, Calvin Murphy, Nate Archibald.

Next with the great point guards in the Calipari family tree, like John Wall, Brandon Knight, Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.

Finally, with the best point guards, of any size, currently playing in the country.

But now we're entering a second season, and point guards – like quarterbacks and pitchers – get a greater burden put on their shoulders. So can Ulis possibly lead this patchwork quilt of specialists – some jumpers who can't shoot, some shooters who can't defend, some defenders who can't shoot free throws – deep into the tournament?

My first thought is of Shabazz Napier, the Connecticut guard who broke Kentucky's heart in 2014. (As opposed to Kemba Walker, the Connecticut guard who broke Kentucky's heart in 2011.) UConn had some talent that year, though it was clearly not overwhelming talent. The Huskies were 32-8, a bit like this UK team, and everyone remembers the 81-48 embarrassment Louisville administered on the last Saturday of the regular season.

This UK team has been up and down, too. Imagine Big Blue Nation's state of collective mind if the team had finished with a 33-point loss. To anyone!

Then Connecticut beat Cincinnati by two points to go up against Louisville in the Big East finals – and win, 71-61.

On to the tournament, starting with an overtime win over St. Joseph's. So two tight games that could have ended Connecticut's season altogether, right there.

By the time it beat Iowa State and Michigan State to get into the Final Four, Connecticut was establishing a certain momentum, which it solidified with a 10-point win over Florida, the nation's Number One, in the semifinals. And then it ended its improbable run by beating another team on an improbable run, Kentucky, 60-54, in the finals.

What I remember about that game is that every time Kentucky got close, especially in the second half, there was Napier, the ball in his hand, directing his team: You, go over there; you, set a pick over here; you, get out of the paint and over into the corner. And then he'd drill the jumper, usually for three, one dagger after another into the Wildcats' heart.

It was not a great Connecticut team, it was a great point guard.

And that's how Tyler Ulis orchestrates his Kentucky bunch, always with the ball in his hand, always pointing with one hand while surveying with both eyes, always in control and in command. And, when a three is needed at the end of the shot clock, he generally delivers.

It may or may not happen for Kentucky as it did for Connecticut. There have been lots of great point guards who did not lead their college teams to championships.

But if I'm taking a team into the 2016 tournament, is there a better point guard I'd rather have with the ball in his hand in the fourth quarter of a close game than Tyler Ulis?