Kentucky Basketball: Would Wins in Remaining Nonconference Games Guarantee 40-0?

You may find the notion that the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team will finish the season undefeated laughable, but there is something even more laughable than that—the rest of the SEC.

However, before Kentucky gets to beat up on the rest of its conference and its grand total of zero ranked teams, it has to navigate two difficult nonconference tilts.

The first one is a notable showdown more for the opponent’s name than the actual basketball fans have seen on the court this season, and the second one is certainly the Wildcats’ most difficult game on the entire schedule.

The Wildcats play UCLA in Chicago on Saturday as part of the CBS Sports Classic in a clash between two of the most prestigious programs in all of college sports with national title banners everywhere. Still, the Bruins are off to a disappointing start and already have three losses, and those losses were all by double digits to Oklahoma, North Carolina and Gonzaga.

Those are the only three opponents of note on what has otherwise been a soft schedule, and the Bruins fell flat in all three chances.

For context, Kentucky destroyed that same North Carolina team that beat UCLA by 22 points.

The Wildcats do have to watch out for UCLA’s rebounding prowess (the Bruins are 11th in the nation in total rebounds per game) and interior play behind Kevon Looney and Tony Parker, but Kentucky should roll against an overmatched opponent.

Then comes the showdown with archrival Louisville and the nation’s top defense, per Ken Pomeroy’s pace-adjusted rankings.

The Cardinals already stifled formidable offensive attacks from Ohio State, Minnesota and Indiana and are one of the few teams in the nation with the size and length to actually match up with Kentucky. Louisville leads the country in total rebounds per game and has a future NBA star in the making in Montrezl Harrell leading the way down low.

What’s more, this game is at Louisville in what should be the most hostile environment Kentucky faces all year. There will be a Final Four atmosphere in the KFC Yum! Center, and how some of the youngsters on the Wildcats react will go a long way toward determining the outcome of the game.

For argument’s sake, let’s say Kentucky’s talent is too much for the Cardinals to handle, and the Wildcats enter SEC play with an unblemished record. That is when the undefeated talk will really pick up steam.

Florida has to be mentioned when discussing the rest of the SEC since it started the season in the Top 10. However, it quickly dropped out after a stunning loss to Miami, an overtime win against Louisiana Monroe, a loss to Georgetown, a loss to North Carolina and a loss to Kansas. To be fair, the Gators dealt with a number of injuries in the early going and should gradually improve as the season progresses.

Still, Billy Donovan lost four senior starters from a season ago, and the Gators are yet to prove anything this year against notable competition. The talent is there, but we haven’t seen it yet. And the losses stand out on the early resume.

As Kentucky, what else scares you outside of a potentially resurgent Gators squad in this conference?

The Wildcats don’t have to go to Arkansas, where they lost last season, Alabama already lost the three games of note it has played against Xavier, Wichita State and Iowa State and a potentially dangerous LSU squad already lost to Old Dominion and looks vulnerable on offense at best.

In a vacuum, Kentucky should win every game it plays all season until the NCAA tournament if it gets past UCLA and Louisville. It simply boasts more talent than anything the SEC has to offer (or anything outside of the NBA has to offer if we are being honest).

However, you cannot just look at every game in a vacuum because they are part of the larger tapestry that is the season as a whole. There are other factors outside of just the basketball that must be taken into consideration.

For one, the Wildcats are going to get their opponents’ A-game every single time they take the floor. That means Kentucky will see a much different version of Alabama than Ole Miss or Vanderbilt will on a sleepy Wednesday night.

We see this phenomenon in college football all the time with 18-21-year-old kids. That’s why Penn State can take Ohio State to double overtime, Arkansas can lose by a missed extra point to Alabama or Washington State can come within a missed pass-interference call of possibly tying Oregon in the final minutes.

There will be some nights when the opposition is just more motivated than Kentucky, and that could come back to haunt the Wildcats on the road in conference play in front of what promises to be raucous opposing crowds.

It can also be fatiguing over the course of a long season to get the opponent’s best shot every time, and that makes it far more likely that Kentucky will have an off night or two along the way to March Madness.

Injury is also an unpredictable factor, and it has already reared its ugly head for the Wildcats in the form of Alex Poythress.

Kentucky has the depth to withstand one or even two major injuries (after all, it already destroyed North Carolina in its first game without Poythress), but even the mighty Wildcats can only survive so much attrition. There is not as much depth in the backcourt as the frontcourt, and an injury to someone like Aaron Harrison would be devastating to the Wildcats’ national title chances.

Ultimately, the odds are still stacked against Kentucky finishing the season undefeated because there are so many unpredictable factors to take into account over the course of a long season. That means a perfect nonconference slate does not guarantee a 40-0 record.

Still, if it can make it past UCLA and Louisville’s suffocating defense, college basketball fans need to start accepting a perfect season as a legitimate possibility. 

The rest of the SEC is just that bad.

 

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Bulls Rumors: Ray Allen Would Greatly Bolster Chicago’s Title Hopes

Ray Allen has two NBA championship rings and clearly wants a third, if this rumor regarding the list of teams he is choosing from is to be believed, via Jordan Schultz of The Huffington Post:

Allen would be a boost for any team on that list, but the Chicago Bulls’ title hopes would greatly improve if they landed the sharp-shooter.

They may have to wait a while longer to make that a reality, as Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register: “I think in two or three weeks, he’ll start thinking about teams. I don’t think right now he is. I think he wants to get through the holidays. … I think he’s doing the right thing, honestly. He’s earned this right, to look at the teams and say, ‘I fit here,’ and jump if he wants to do that.”

If Allen decided that he fits in Chicago, the rest of the Eastern Conference will officially be on notice.

For one, it would keep Allen out of Cleveland and Washington. Considering the Cavaliers and Wizards may ultimately represent Chicago’s greatest threats in the Eastern Conference, that would be a win in itself.

On the actual floor, the first thing that stands out about Allen is his three-point shooting. This is particularly important for a Chicago team that was only shooting 36.5 percent from behind the three-point arc entering Monday’s game. What’s more, point guard Derrick Rose was at 30.5 percent, while shooting guard Jimmy Butler was at 29.1.  

Allen would get plenty of open looks just from how he would theoretically mesh with the Bulls’ personnel already in place. Rose has always been more of a penetrator throughout his career (even if he is shooting 5.5 three-pointers per game this season while he works his way back to full health) and can set Allen up by drawing extra defenders with his quickness and explosive first step.

There is also a strong interior game with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol and even Nikola Mirotic in Chicago, although Mirotic has ventured beyond the three-point line this season. Noah and Gasol are both known for their passing from the elbow and post, and any time an extra defender were to cheat down low, they would find Allen spotting up.

Allen has shot 40 percent from downtown over the course of his career and boasts a ridiculous 2,973 made three-point attempts. Somehow, Chicago would find some room in the rotation for that.

Allen also flashed his versatility in Miami last season when he was more than capable of playing some small forward. That is important for Chicago, because the small forward spot is something of a weakness if you prescribe to the theory that Mike Dunleavy, Doug McDermott and Tony Snell don’t make up a championship-level group at the position.

McDermott, who was supposed to be the three-point threat for the Bulls this season, is hurt, which opens up even a bigger hole to be filled.

Perhaps the best part of signing Allen in terms of championship hopes for Chicago, though, is that it would take away some of the minutes burden on Butler’s shoulders. He is the team’s best perimeter defender and is asked to play 40 minutes per game all while containing the opponent’s best player on the other end.

If and when the Bulls are locked up in a playoff series with the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors or Washington Wizards, Butler will be the one asked to guard LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan or Bradley Beal. The only way he will be able to do that effectively is by staying healthy and fresh through June.

Allen could spell Butler for extended stretches and keep No. 21 just a bit fresher before the playoffs.

Allen also brings a championship pedigree to the table, which should not be overlooked for a Chicago squad largely made up of players who have come close but never reached the NBA mountain top. Noah, Rose, Gibson and Butler, among others, have yet to win a ring, and adding a veteran leader like Allen could help in the huddle and locker room in the tense playoff moments that are sure to come. 

Allen will not shrink away from the spotlight in the most important games. Now the question is whether those important games will come with Chicago or some other team.

 

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Carmelo: Waiving no-trade clause would make me weak

Carmelo Anthony came out Friday and vehemently denied reports that he is considering waiving his no-trade clause with the New York Knicks in order to effectuate his way out of town. “Come on, man. After all the work I did to get here and get back here? If I was to get up and want…Read More
The post Carmelo Anthony: Waiving no-trade clause ‘would just make me weak’ appeared first on Sportress of Blogitude.

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Carmelo: Waiving no-trade clause would make me weak

Carmelo Anthony came out Friday and vehemently denied reports that he is considering waiving his no-trade clause with the New York Knicks in order to effectuate his way out of town. “Come on, man. After all the work I did to get here and get back here? If I was to get up and want…Read More
The post Carmelo Anthony: Waiving no-trade clause ‘would just make me weak’ appeared first on Sportress of Blogitude.

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Where Would the Lakers Finish in the Eastern Conference?

The Lakers have been in the cellar of the Western Conference. With a slew of injuries to start the season and heavy reliance on a 36-year-old Kobe Bryant, the Lakers don’t have much competition to offer the West.

However, the Lakers are 3-0 against the Eastern Conference, swingman Nick Young has returned from injury and Bryant has surprisingly continued to be a force this season on the heels of his 20th career triple-double.

If the Lakers didn’t have to play in the West, would they be a playoff team? Where would the Lakers finish in the Eastern Conference?

Watch as Bleacher Report’s Senior Writer Kevin Ding joins Adam Lefkoe to talk about how the Los Angeles Lakers would fare in the Eastern Conference in the video above.

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10 College Basketball Coaches Who Would Be the Best Fits in the NBA

In basketball, the pro game is a lot like the college game. Only not really.

You’re still throwing a ball through a hoop and whatnot, but the center of gravity is different seated in the NBA galaxy, where even the deepest benchwarmer can play like a college star.

That gives the coaches a different set of roles, which require a different set of capacities. Sometimes they overlap and translate, sometimes they don’t. For every Larry Brown, there is at least one Jerry Tarkanian. Maybe several Jerry Tarkanians.

In the pro coaching ranks, you have to put the players over you. You’re less a teacher than a kind of corporate manager. That means being able to set your ego and your notions of “program” aside. You have to hold attention spans and buoy motivation over 82 games, instead of 35 or so. The gaps between teams are smaller in the pros, while individual talent, egos and money are just a tiny bit bigger.

The X’s and O’s can always be changed. But personal style? That’s a little more lasting. Here are the 10 college coaches who appear to have the experience and approach necessary to fit in at the next level. They are listed in no particular order.

 

Begin Slideshow

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Minnesota Timberwolves: Trading Corey Brewer would be a good move

Corey Brewer
In the past few weeks, the Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Corey Brewer was the center of many trade rumors. Most of the rumors dealt with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, two teams that are in contention to win the NBA finals and have already expressed interest in Brewer.
Cleveland would like to get another veteran, and would like to reunite Kevin Love with Brewer, as the two of them had a number of fast break points as Love would outlet to Brewer whenever Brewer leaked out. Houston has wanted Brewer before this year, Kevin McHale is the current head coach of the Houston Rockets really likes Brewer’s game, and actually drafted Brewer in 2006 when he was the general manager of the Timberwolves.
However, Flip Saunders the coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves has said he is intent on keeping Brewer, so as of right now it appears unlikely for the Timberwolves to deal him. Even though Brewer is a veteran player that provides solid defense and is a good transition threat, I believe

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David Blatt Would Love It If LeBron James Let Him Do His Job

Working with the most dominant player in your sport at the height of his or her career is a gift and a curse.

On one hand, you experience the luxury of fielding a demigod. On the other, you’ll occasionally find yourself contending with a star who commands as much respect from the team as you, if not more.

Such is the rub for David Blatt. The former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach is going through double growing pains in his first year as an NBA coach.

On top of adjusting to the league, he’s working with a tossed-salad team of superstars including LeBron James, who appeared to commandeer the job of coach several times during Cleveland‘s 92-90 loss to the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday.

Vine user Jimmy (h/t NextImpulseSports.com’s John Ferensen) posted some snippets of James engaging in the role of head coach/player during the game. You’ll also notice Blatt, who’s left to circle the perimeter of his timeouts like the small guy taping forks together at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Multiple times during the game Blatt found himself boxed out from the team. He just wanted someone to give him a chance and once had to apply a box-out move to get to the center of the huddle.

It’s great to see James leading actively (as opposed to playing passive-aggressive ball), but Blatt is on the team payroll. His job description doesn’t include passing game time with needlepoint and Royal Dansk.

Give him a second, LeBron. He’s been watching the entire game and swears he has an idea or two.

  

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Suns’ Eric Bledsoe Believes Kentucky Would Beat 76ers in 7-Game Series

Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe better bring his A-game the next time he faces the Philadelphia 76ers, or he’ll never hear the end of it.

The 76ers are currently sitting at 0-10, losing by nearly 17 points per game on average. Their struggles have stirred up a popular debate: Could the best college team beat the worst professional team?

The NCAA’s Kentucky Wildcats are loaded with talent and looking good early on this season, but Kentucky coach John Calipari was quick to dismiss the notion that his team could beat an NBA team:

However, Bledsoe—a former Wildcat—disagrees with his college coach.

Bledsoe appeared on SiriusXM’s The Starting Lineup with Brian Geltzeiler and Malik Rose. That’s when he gave his thoughts on if the Wildcats could beat the 76ers in a seven-game series:

You heard that right. Bledsoe would “definitely” take Kentucky, with Philadelphia “maybe” winning a game. That’s a pretty surprising response even for a former Wildcat.

Who would win a seven-game series, the 76ers or the Wildcats?

[John Calipari, SoundCloud; h/t Dime Magazine]

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Who would you prefer? Chris Paul or Derrick Rose

The point guard position is considered the most pivotal position in a NBA roster.  The league is filled with numerous amount of talent in the point guard position, but I will narrow it down to two point guards: Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. Who would you favor out of the two if you had an opportunity to assemble a dynasty? Well, let’s analyze the two and see what you decide.
Throughout their luxurious careers, both Chris Paul and Derrick Rose have received nothing but high praise for their approach and commitment to the game. Acquiring several accolades through their NBA tenure, but the two are absent of one goal and that is winning a NBA title. Although both play the same position, their style of play is entirely different. They both have extraordinary talent and bring a very diverse skill set to their respective team.
Chris Paul “The Floor General”
Chis Paul: 7x All-Star
Chris Paul began his career immediately establishing himself as one of NBA’s best point guards. Paul entered the league with a hu

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