Throughout the 2014-15 college basketball season, the Kentucky Wildcats have remained the undisputed #1 team in men’s hoops, and for good reason. They are the best team in college basketball. Having won the SEC championship earlier today, their record has swelled to 34-0. They have had some close calls, but so far no one has prevailed against the Wildcats. In just a little while, the NCAA tournament selection committee will unveil the field of 68. Most every “expert” in the sports media will predict Kentucky to win the national championship. But Kentucky is not going to win it, and it’s not because they aren’t the best team (they are), nor because they don’t have the most talent (they do), but for two reasons:
1). The pressure of becoming the first undefeated team in 39 years will prove too much to bear. Kentucky will likely make the Final Four. The pressure of performing at that level is enough. But the added pressure of maintaining their perfect record will prove their undoing. If their record were, say, 33-1 or 32-2, I’d pencil them in as national champions. But the young Wildcats team won’t be able to win its way to 40-0.
2). John Calipari has a history of choking away big games. Granted, he does have one national championship to his name, but he does have a habit of otherwise squandering gigantic opportunities. As a Memphis fan, I learned this the hard way seven years ago. Kentucky will meet its match in the Final Four, and John Calipari will once again find himself out-maneuvered.
So, sorry Kentucky fans. You’ve had a memorable season. You have a great team full of future NBA players. But the 2015 national championship banner shall not hang from the rafters at Rupp Arena. It will be won by Wisconsin.