Basketball

Yahoo! Sports Says Kentucky Will Be the Biggest Bracket Bust This Season

Brad Evans of Yahoo! Sports says Kentucky will be the biggest NCAA Tournament bust this year.

Evans bases it on poor three-point shooting, late-season scoring woes, bad interior defense, sloppy handles and the mediocre SEC.

Here is an excerpt:



Kentucky will be the biggest NCAA Tournament bust this year.

Apologies Ashley Judd.

Here are five reasons why Big Blue Nation won’t measure up to its lofty expectations:

Late-season scoring woes. Kentucky lives and dies with Malik Monk. The future NBA lottery pick is an outstanding, multidimensional scorer who, when on, can drop 30 on a team with ease. Those occurrences, though, were sporadic at best over February and early March. Yes, the freshman buried Florida and Vanderbilt in home bouts, but droughts logged against inferior Missouri, Georgia and Texas A&M nearly caused humiliating losses. De’Aaron Fox, the schools star point guard, missed the game against the Bulldogs, but efforts in other contests, with Fox on the floor, mystified. If Monk doesn’t exceed 20 points in a given night, it places enormous pressure on Cal’s less explosive and more unreliable complementary options. The ‘Cats need his take over abilities to shine in order to survive and advance.

Three-point troubles. Outside Monk, Kentucky isn’t a team that routinely rains down on opponents from beyond the arc. Yes, Derek Willis and Mychal Mulder are effective, at times, but they only sporadically cash in. Collectively, the ‘Cats shoot 35.3 percent from distance, 162nd-best in the category nationally. In fact, less than one-quarter of their points come from threes. Zone-heavy teams that can pack the paint are a major matchup problem. Even against strong man defenses they’ve struggled. Scoring in variable ways is fundamental to tournament success. Kentucky, though tremendous around the basket, simply doesn’t possess enough arrows in the arsenal to compete in the later rounds.

Average interior D. Coach Cal, one of the most brutally honest, and refreshingly so, voices in the game today would probably admit his team often looks disinterested on defense. It was apparent when his club was schooled by Florida in Gainesville Feb. 5, a lopsided defeat Calipari described as “rock bottom.” Worked on the boards 54-to-29, UK surrendered an almost unfathomable number of second-chance points and, unsurprisingly, 1.14 points per possession. It tightened up a bit down the stretch defensively, but in SEC play it conceded the fifth-worst two-point percentage. Edrice Adebayo, Willis and Wenyen Gabriel are willing paint defenders, but foes with size and athleticism to match present challenges. The Louisville, UCLA and Kansas losses earlier this season serve as reminders.

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