Kentucky remains far above the field in SEC tournament

Frank Scicchitano

We all know who is the top dog (or cat) in the Southeastern Conference.

Last weekend, the Kentucky Wildcats defeated Florida to cap off a perfect 31-0 regular season.  

The talent of Kentucky is staggering.  In the past, the Wildcats have featured mostly freshmen in their lineup.

This year, however, Kentucky is a veteran-laden team that is hungry in their title chase and a chance for an undefeated run through the postseason.

Defense is the name of the game for the Wildcats.  Head Coach John Calipari’s team boasts one of the nation’s third best defnesive statistically, allowing just 53.4 points per game.

Forwards Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns are two of the best rim-protectors in the country and make it difficult for opponents to drive to the basket.As a team, Kentucky rejects just under seven shots per contest, second in the nation statistically.

In theory, Kentucky will face no serious opponents to begin their quest to the National Championship. 

But this is March; anything can happen.

In fact, the Wildcats have already faced some stiff competition in the SEC regular season.  Earlier on this season, Ole Miss and Texas A&M forced Kentucky into overtime in consecutive games, and LSU lost to the Wildcats by only two points.

Could one of these pedestrian SEC teams take down the conference’s lone heavyweight?  Absolutely.

However, the Wildcats’ toughest competition may, in fact, be the Arkansas Razorbacks.  The “Hogs” are led by star forward Bobby Portis who is averaging 17.8 points per game, second on the conference in scoring.

Arkansas features a gritty, potent offense which averages 79.0 points per game and 16.8 assists per game.  Michael Qualls headlines the Razorback backcourt averaging 15.3 points per game.

Other than Arkansas, Georgia serves as one of the stiffest competitors to Kentucky’s throne.  The Bulldogs finished third in the conference and came within eight points of the Wildcats on March 3.

In that game, senior forward Nemanja Djurisic recorded a team-high 18 points to lead a balanced offensive attack.  He joins four other scoring threats who all average over ten points per game.  

Even these talented teams, however, will have their hands full against Kentucky.  

In additiion to the Wildcats’ enormous frontcourt, the Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, lead a talented backcourt that also features standout freshmen Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker.The combination of experience and youth has been key to Kentucky’s success this year.

Expect the Wildcats to continue their dominance of SEC opponents and enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated.