Kentucky is six victories from a historic 40-0 season — and its ninth NCAA men's basketball championship.
Which teams could potentially put the Cats' coronation in peril? In alphabetical order, here is a threat assessment of teams who appear to pose the most danger to UK's dream season.
Rankings: No. 2 in Pomeroy Ratings; No. 5 in official NCAA RPI.
Reason they are dangerous; Arizona's defense (allowing 58.8 points and opponents to shoot only 39.1 percent) is not far off Kentucky's. The "other" Wildcats have a frontline — freshman star Stanley Johnson (14.1 points, 6.6 rebounds); power forward Brandon Ashley (12.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg); forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (10.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski (9.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg) — that can compete with UK's.
Obstacle they must overcome: Sean Miller has taken the Wildcats to three Sweet 16s and two Elite Eights — but never the Final Four. Until Miller sheds the label "the best coach without a Final Four," the pressure to do so will only build.
Threat level: High.
Rankings: No. 7 Pomeroy; No. 6 RPI.
Reason they are dangerous: No team has four more impressive road wins than the "K crew" — at Wisconsin, at Louisville, at Virginia, at North Carolina. The Blue Devils (81.1 points a game) can score. With star freshman big man Jahlil Okafor (17.7 ppg; 9 rpg) surrounded by talented guards Quinn Cook (15.7 ppg) and Tyus Jones (11.6 ppg, 5.8 assists), Duke is third in the Pomeroy adjusted offensive efficiency ratings.
Obstacle they must overcome: Remember when the identity of Duke basketball was slapping the floor to inspire lock-down defense? Those days are gone. Duke is a pedestrian 57th in the Pomeroy defensive efficiency ratings.
Threat level: Moderately high.
Rankings: No. 11 Pomeroy; No 3 RPI.
Reason they are dangerous: They're Kansas. The Jayhawks defend with the ferocity (seventh in Pomeroy adjusted defensive efficiency rankings) one associates with a Bill Self team. If the Midwest No. 2 seed Jayhawks get to Kentucky, they will have motivation to avenge the 72-40 beat down they absorbed from the Cats in November.
Obstacle they must overcome: Kansas is 16-0 this season in Lawrence — and 10-8 everywhere else.
Threat level: Moderate.
Rankings: No. 33 Pomeroy; No. 12 RPI.
Reason they are dangerous: March Madness is all about guard play, and Maryland's backcourt of freshman point guard Melo Trimble (16.3 ppg, 3.1 assists) and Xavier transfer Dez Wells (15.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is stout.
Obstacle they must overcome: In their final season in the ACC last year, Maryland limped to a 17-15 season. With a revamped roster, the Terps have easily been the best non-Wisconsin team in the Big Ten in 2014-15 — but how much of that is due to the weakness of the Big Ten's other non-Wisconsin teams?
Threat level: Low
Rankings: No. 10 Pomeroy; No. 15 RPI.
Reason they are dangerous: The general consensus all season has been that, to beat Kentucky, a team must be able to work magic from behind the three-point line. Mike Brey's Fighting Irish start four guards and spread the court. For the season, Notre Dame has made 8.3 treys a game and hit 39.2 percent of its three-point tries. In senior guard Jerian Grant (16.4 ppg, 6.9 assists) the Irish have a player who can take over games.
Obstacle they must overcome: As the No. 3 seed in the Midwest, Notre Dame must win three NCAA tourney games to face Kentucky. The Fighting Irish have not done that since Digger Phelps led them to the 1978 Final Four.
Threat level: Moderate
Rankings: No. 4 Pomeroy; No. 7 RPI.
Reason they are dangerous: You know how good Kentucky's defense has been? For a good bit of the season, Virginia ranked ahead of UK in Pomeroy's adjusted defensive efficiency ratings. The Cavaliers are holding opponents to 50.8 points and 36.1 percent field goal shooting.
Obstacle they must overcome: Before standout forward Justin Anderson broke a finger on his left hand (shooting hand) against Louisville on Feb. 7, UVa. was playing at an elite level. Anderson (12.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg) tried to return in the ACC Tournament, but played with his broken finger taped to another finger. He went 0-for-6 shooting. It's hard to see Virginia making the Final Four if Anderson is not able to play closer to his normal level in the NCAAs.
Threat level: Moderate
Rankings: No. 3 Pomeroy; No. 4 RPI.
Reason they are dangerous: Have four starters back from team that lost to Kentucky 74-73 on Aaron Harrison's three-pointer in the Final Four. In 7-foot center Frank "The Tank" Kaminsky (18.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and forwards Sam Dekker (13.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Nigel Hayes (12.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg), the Badgers have one of the best frontlines in college hoops. According to the Pomeroy adjusted offensive efficiency rating, Wisconsin is the best offensive team in the country.
Obstacle they must overcome: Traevon Jackson, Wisconsin's starting point guard, has been out since suffering a foot injury at Rutgers on Jan. 11. It is expected he will be cleared to return during the NCAA Tournament. If that happens, how effective will Jackson be? Can Wisconsin work him back into the mix without disrupting a team that has lost only once (at Maryland) since Jackson's injury?
Threat level: Moderately high (just plain high if Jackson returns and is effective).