NCAA Basketball

Soft 16: Kentucky Wildcats

Last season, the Kentucky Wildcats lost in heartbreaking fashion in the Sweet 16 to Kansas State. I remember (faintly) standing in the Lexington Tin Roof as the clock hit zero. I was disappointed, drunk, and ready to fight anyone wearing purple. Thankfully, the phrase “there’s always next year” isn’t just an annoying cliche to a Kentucky fan like myself. Calipari has another group of first-round draft picks ready to get my hopes up again. So let’s break down the 2018-2019 Kentucky Wildcats.

Head Coach: John Calipari

Key Returning Players: PJ Washington, “Sophomore Nick” Richards (S/o KSR)

Key Losses: Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Wenyen Gabriel, Jarred Vanderbilt

Key Additions: Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley, Ashton Hagans, EJ Montgomery, Reid Travis (Transfer from Stanford)

Key Games: Duke (Indianapolis), North Carolina (Chicago), @Louisville, @Auburn, Mississippi State, Kansas, @Mississippi State, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, @Tennessee

In his 11th year as UK’s Head Coach, Cal only has one title under his belt. With the amount of talent that he has, we should really have at least one more championship. That being said, I have a better feeling about this team than I have in a long time. They played extremely well in the Bahamas over summer and are already clicking very well. They remind me of the 2015 Final Four team; experience, shooting, height and playmakers. For experience, the cats have Nick Richards, who finally learned how to play basketball, PJ Washington, Quade Green and Reid Travis, the former all Pac-12 transfer. For shooting, we have Tyler Herro, who will keep a lot of coaches up at night, Immanuel Quickley. Sadly no Brad Calipari as he has decided to redshirt this season. For height, UK has several players above 6’10” including EJ Montgomery. Finally, our playmakers include Keldon Johnson, Ashton Hagans, and Tyler Herro. With the #5 strength of schedule, the cats will be tested early and often. Hopefully, this prepares them for the deep tournament run I know they are capable of. As long as Calipari doesn’t run the platoon system, I expect to play into April.

Prediction: Kentucky will go 27-4 this regular season. I fully expect them to win the SEC Regular Season and Tournament in Nashville. I am a Kentucky fan, but this is an actual objective take: Kentucky will win the 2019 National Championship.

Categories: NCAA Basketball

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