March Madness Brackets Advice and Tips: Kentucky's Road to the National Title
by George Monroy - 3/17/2015
The Kentucky Wildcats are on the verge of becoming the first undefeated team to win a national title since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers and could firmly place themselves on the table as the greatest college basketball team ever. All that stands in the way between Coach John Calipari's squad and eternal greatness is six more wins: 240 minutes of perfect basketball and a 40th-straight victory. The accomplishment is probably easier said than done.
Heading into the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, the Wildcats are said to have one of the easiest roads to the Final Four, where potential matchups against the West Region's powerhouse teams in the Frank Kaminsky-led Wisconsin Badgers or Arizona Wildcats loom. If Kentucky can go on to complete the perfect season and capture its second national title in three years, it won't be for a lack of competition, because once the Final Four rolls around, every squad left will be a threat. Let's take a closer look at Kentucky's road to the national title with predictions and analysis.
Round of 64
Potential opponents: TBD
Odds of Advancing: 99 percent
Kentucky is still waiting on its potential opponent to come from the first-round play-in games. The squad will either face Hampton or Manhattan, but since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 and then 68 teams, a No. 1 seed has never lost to a No. 16 seed. Kentucky probably has a one-percent change of losing that matchup based on a fluke injury or divine miracle, but don't expect the first-ever No. 16 over No. 1 seed upset to happen here.
Round of 32
Potential opponents: Cincinnati or Purdue
Odds of Advancing: 90 percent
The Wildcats have failed to advance past the Round of 32 only once over the last seven years, which has been 22 games and five tournament appearances. There is a small chance that Kentucky falls apart here and goes down in a huge upset, but neither Purdue nor Cincinnati has faced any team like Kentucky this season. Expect an easy matchup during this round.
Potential opponent: Maryland
Odds of Advancing: 80 percent
Kentucky will not be tested until it reaches the Sweet 16, where the team will most likely face a tough Maryland Terrapins squad. The matchup could provide potential problems for the Wildcats, who did struggle at times during the regular season. Maryland has major talent on its squad, beginning with freshman guard Melo Trimble, and can match up against Kentucky on the perimeter with senior forward Dez Wells and its roster of 3-point shooters. The Wildcats will probably win this potential matchup, but expect a competitive game if it actually takes place.
Potential Opponents: Kansas, Notre Dame
Odds of Advancing: 70 percent
The Fighting Irish should be riding a wave of momentum after beating both Duke and North Carolina in the ACC tournament, and the team would probably not have any confidence issues heading into an Elite Eight matchup against Kentucky. Notre Dame is a slick squad with excellent ball movement and a deadly shooting percentage from the field. Kentucky might feel more confident with a matchup against Kansas, a team it beat by 32 points this season. No matter who the Wildcats face during this round, a win is still the most likely outcome.
Potential Opponents: Wisconsin, Arizona
Odds of Advancing: 60 percent
A matchup against either Wisconsin or Arizona is one of the few games where Kentucky might not have the best player on the floor. Frank Kaminsky and Brandon Ashley are both talented players that can dominate in the paint and score points when their teams need it. If Kentucky were to lose here, it would hardly be an upset-disappointing yes, but not very shocking. Wisconsin and Arizona are both legitimate national title threats.
Potential Opponents:Duke, Villanova, Virginia, Iowa State
Odds of Winning: 55 percent
Kentucky will certainly be favored over any squad they end up facing in the championship game and, outside of facing Duke, will also be the most talented. The Blue Devils are only opponent on the other side of the bracket that can match up with Kentucky in stature, coaching and recruiting talent. Whichever teams comes out of the East and South bracket will be a battle-tested squad that will give the Wildcats a legitimate fight for the NCAA title.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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