Kentucky 2010 NCAA Tournament Preview
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Kentucky Wildcats - Southeastern Conference (32-2, 14-2)
Seed: #1 - East Region
Big Wins: 2/13 Tennessee (73-62), 2/20 at Vanderbilt (58-56), 3/13 vs Tennessee (74-45)
Bad Losses: 1/26 at South Carolina (62-68), 2/27 at Tennessee (65-74)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, First Round loss to Marquette
Coach: John Calipari (25-11 in 11 NCAA appearances)
Probable Kentucky Starters:
John Wall, Freshman, Guard, 16.9 ppg, 6.4 apg, 4.3 rpg
Eric Bledsoe, Freshman, Guard, 10.8 ppg, 3.0 apg
Darius Miller, Sophomore, Guard, 6.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Patrick Patterson, Junior, Forward, 14.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg
DeMarcus Cousins, Freshman, Forward, 15.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg
Key Kentucky Roleplayers:
Darnell Dodson, Sophomore, Guard, 6.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Ramon Harris, Senior, Guard, 1.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg
DeAndre Liggins, Sophomore, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Daniel Orton, Freshman, Forward, 3.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Why The Wildcats Can Surprise:
John Calipari has proven to be a great coach time and time again and he has worked miracles very quickly at Kentucky. A superb recruiting class was supposed to make the future look bright, but after a 19-0 start to the year, the Wildcats are looking for success right away. And with a man like Coach Calipari making the calls, they certainly have the ability to win it all.
The return of Patrick Patterson, who could have been a first round pick in the NBA Draft, has turned this into one of the best frontcourts in the nation and given some much needed experience to the squad. Patterson is averaging 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds on the year. By the numbers freshman DeMarcus Cousins is even more productive than Patterson. Together, they have helped the Wildcats rank in the top ten in rebounding margin and blocked shots per game.
Why The Wildcats Can Disappoint:
Cousins is not the only freshman playing major minutes. John Wall is arguably one of the top five players in the nation and fellow guard Eric Bledsoe is not far behind. While both are prolific scorers and Wall dishes out 6.4 assists per game, the turnover numbers are high. That is understandable on a team that likes to run and has the athletes to do it, but these are still freshmen and the bright lights of March are usually quite unkind to freshmen point guards. Wall and Bledsoe could get to the Final Four on pure skill, but eventually the pressure will get to them.
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Who To Watch for Kentucky:
Darius Miller is the unappreciated starter and, as a sophomore, the experienced player in the backcourt. Miller is a fine outside shooter and once he starts using his 6-7, 223 pound frame to get to the basket, he will make this team nearly impossible to stop. The other important players to keep an eye on are forward Daniel Orton and wing Ramon Harris. Cousins only averages about 23 minutes per game and Orton and Harris need to come in and at least help out on the glass. Orton has the size, but Harris is a superb defender and a surprisingly good rebounder for a 6-7 wing. While Kentucky is one of the tallest teams in the nation, their experienced depth up front could be a concern if Patterson and Cousins find themselves in foul trouble.
Kentucky By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.7 (15th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.6 (101, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.8 (21, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.3 (8, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.1 (172, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.9 (134, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.3 (196, 6)
Rebound Margin: 8.7 (4, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (50, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.7 (240, 11)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Sweet Sixteen loss to Wisconsin