Reasons why Kentucky will win the 2010 NCAA men's basketball national championship ...
1. A Big Three
The hoops adage is that a national champion needs three future first-round draft picks playing prominent roles. In John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson, Kentucky could have three of the top 10 picks in the next NBA Draft (if they all come out). No other team in the country has a big three with that high a talent ceiling.
2. A Wall to rely upon
At the end of tight games (see Miami (Ohio); UConn; at Vanderbilt), John Wall has bailed out Kentucky with clutch play. Just as impressively, the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year has shown a knack for recognizing the decisive stretch (whenever that is) and imposing his will on contests (see Louisville and Florida in Rupp Arena). Those are pretty good traits for a team's best player to carry into the NCAA tourney.
3. A tall tale
As they say in the basketball trade, UK is "long." The Cats' unusual combination of long-armed size and athleticism has made Kentucky one of the country's best defensive teams (fourth in the nation in field-goal percentage allowed at 38.0) and best rebounding teams (fourth in the country in rebound margin at plus-8.3). For potential NCAA tourney foes that haven't faced Kentucky this season, the Cats' length is going to require a daunting adjustment.
Reasons why Kentucky won't win the 2010 NCAA men's basketball national championship ...
1. You're much too young
As talented as they are, Kentucky is still starting three freshmen, including both its guards. Under tournament pressure against teams of varying styles and strengths, will that inexperience eventually catch up with the Cats?
2. Welcome to Brick City
John Calipari says UK's erratic perimeter shooting will not be what takes Kentucky down, but you wonder. Over a seven-game stretch that ended with UK's loss to Tennessee in Knoxville on Feb. 27, the Cats clanged their way to 27-for-125 shooting from three-point range (21.6 percent). With Darnell Dodson relocating his jumper, UK shot the trey better (16-for-42, 38.1 percent) in its final two regular-season games. Still, if the tourney situation comes up where the Cats have to make perimeter shots to survive (and advance), will they?
3. As 'toughened' as a champion has to be?
When you schedule games with North Carolina, Connecticut, Indiana and Louisville you are trying to test yourself against the best. Unfortunately for UK, all its premier non-conference foes turned out to be bad to mediocre. If that weren't enough, the Southeastern Conference wasn't as deep with good teams as many expected. With all that, the RealTimeRPI Web site ranked Kentucky's schedule 38th toughest in the nation (going into SEC Tournament play), which isn't horrible. Still, you wonder, have the Cats been as "tested" by their schedule as they need to be to win it all?