As the Kentucky Wildcats embark on their NCAA Tournament journey to Boise, many wonder whether they will head to Atlanta for the Sweet 16 or return to Lexington.
Kentucky has a tough path to the championship this year, but there are certain sings that will give you a look ahead to whether or not UK will win their game.
Here are five individual stats you can track during the game that guarantee (or close to it) a Wildcat win:
UK is 4-0 when a player scored 25 or more points in a game
Kentucky has all of the odds in their favor when someone picks up the scoring load. Kevin Knox had 34 points, a UK season high, against West Virginia in arguably the most memorable game of the year.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put 30 on Vanderbilt in January to topple the Commodores. Knox and Nick Richards also scored 25 in January against Illinois-Chicago and Fort Wayne, respectively.
If that isn’t enough, Shai did it again. SGA scored 29 against Tennessee in the SEC Championship game, leading the ‘Cats to victory. Make that a cool 5-0.
UK is 3-0 when a player has 13 or more rebounds
Unlucky number 13 has come up favorably for the ‘Cats. If a UK player hits this mark, you can guarantee a victory. In what has been Nick Richards’ career game he collected a season best 15 rebounds against Fort Wayne.
He wasn’t the only Wildcat to hit 15 rebounds this year, as Jarred Vanderbilt pulled down 15 against Missouri at home. Wenyen Gabriel also had 13 against Utah Valley in a November win.
UK is 11-2 when a player has 8 or more free throw attempts in a game
A Kentucky player has attempted 8 or more free throws in 13 regular season games this season. The two games the ‘Cats didn’t win was a two-point loss against Tennessee on February sixth, and against South Carolina where Kevin Knox and PJ Washington had 10 each against South Carolina.
Every other contest resulted in a win, not including where PJ and Shai had 8 and 12, respectively, against Alabama in the tournament. So, including the SEC Tournament, Kentucky is 12-2 in such games. The South Carolina loss is concerning when it comes to this statistic, but if we see a Kentucky player crack 8 free throws in a game this NCAA Tournament, Big Blue Nation can be confident that the Wildcats will come out with a victory.
UK is 9-1 when a player has three or more blocks in a game
If UK brings the SWAT team to the tourney, chances are they leave with a win. Granted, seven of the wins came before the New Year, including a loss against Kansas where two players (Sacha Killeya-Jones and PJ) had 3+ blocks.
Yet, Kentucky defeated West Virginia, Missouri, and Mississippi when blocking three or more shots. Oh, and Gabriel had three blocks against Alabama to go along with his perfect three-point shooting night. Keep a close eye on individual blocks throughout the tournament.
UK is 6-1 when a player has 5 or more offensive rebounds in a game
Opponents have eaten up the ‘Cats on the boards this season, but when UK grabs their own missed shots they are hard to beat. Wenyen Gabriel had six offensive rebounds against UCLA in a very uninspired loss.
Other than that game, they have won every contest. Jarred Vanderbilt has the last three performances for the Wildcats against Arkansas, Alabama in February, and West Virginia. If someone steps up to clean the glass, the team is often rewarded with the victory.
Can the ‘Cats make it to the championship this year? The odds are against them, but if any of the guys can reach these benchmarks in each game, their path will be much more certain.