Players are not machines. We know this.
John Calipari tells us all the time. And asking any group of 18-22 year olds to win six straight pressure-packed games against top competition is giving them a very tall task.
ESPN’s Myron Medcalf has taken all 16 teams on ESPN’s Power Rankings and broken down why each of them has the chance to make a Final Four run. He also goes into detail about what would keep each of them from making it to Minneapolis.
Currently coming in at No. 6 on the Power Rankings, the Kentucky Wildcats certainly seem to have the firepower to compete come tournament time.
Kentucky has launched one of the most impressive turnarounds this year and evolved into a national title contender behind the emergence of PJ Washington (14.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 44 percent from beyond the arc), now an All-America candidate, and Tyler Herro, a reliable shooter who has made 42 percent of his shots from the 3-point line in SEC play.
As far as what would keep them from getting there, Metcalf took the Tennessee Volunteers’ recipe from Saturday and noted that could result in a quick out for the Wildcats later this month.
Entering Saturday’s game, Kentucky’s opponents had made 49 percent of their shots inside the arc when Herro, Reid Travis (who is expected to return at some point from a knee injury) and Ashton Hagans -- all listed as average defenders in isolation by Synergy Sports -- were on the floor together, per hooplens.com. That reality makes potential foul trouble for Washington in the postseason -- a challenge in the first half against the Vols on Saturday -- a nightmare scenario that could ruin Kentucky’s Final Four dreams.
PJ getting into foul trouble certainly impacted Saturday’s loss, as he left the game with the Wildcats trailing by one and came back into a 13-point deficit. And while that could certainly lead to the end of Kentucky’s season during the tournament, it seems like the loss to Tennessee raised lots of other questions as well.
How do the Wildcats handle Washington get doubled when Reid Travis is not on the floor? Why does Tyler Herro struggle so much defensively when his shots aren’t falling? Why is Keldon Johnson not a more focal point of the offense?
It is March, my friends. While it seems late to have so many big questions, eliminating last week from the equation this team looks as ready for tournament play as any in the country. How will they respond in the last two regular season games? Tip-off is at 9 p.m. on Tuesday at Oxford.