The problem for the rest of college basketball is Kentucky remains hungry.
It hasn’t been enough for the Wildcats to crush such non-conference luminaries as Kansas and UCLA, run away from North Carolina, avoid upsets at Louisville, Texas A&M and LSU and a misstep at home against Mississippi, finishing the regular season 31-0.
It wasn’t enough to breeze through the Southeastern Conference Tournament by an 18-point average victory margin to improve to 34-0.
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All of that is well and good, but it’s nowhere near enough for Kentucky.
“We’re ready,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after the Wildcats defeated Arkansas on Sunday. “Let’s get on with this next tournament.”
A NCAA championship is what matters, and if the Wildcats can dodge the traffic of the Midwest Regional, get to the Final Four in Indianapolis and finish the job, they’ll become the most perfect team in men’s college basketball history at 40-0.
That’s why the nets remained on the rims at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Sunday after the league title game.
“Those aren’t nets we’re looking to cut down,” said Willie Cauley-Stein, the Kansas native who was chosen as the tournament’s most outstanding player. “We’re looking for something bigger.”
The nets eventually were snipped, by team managers after the team had left the floor, but the message was sent.
As for the Midwest Region, there’s a mixed bag of potential obstacles. Second-seeded Kansas was the champion of the Big 12, the top-rated conference. But the Wildcats beat the Jayhawks by 32 in November.
It’s a different Kansas team, one that has played high-level games almost every night out for weeks. The battle-tested Jayhawks defend ferociously and they’ll remember the beat down from November.
Notre Dame is the third seed, and the Fighting Irish are hot after winning the ACC Tournament. They also have a star in Jerian Grant who can take over a game, and the team can be deadly from behind the arc.
But Notre Dame is fighting history. The Irish haven’t played past the first weekend since 2003.
The biggest threats to Kentucky may come from other regions. Arizona or Wisconsin in the West, Duke in the South, Villanova in the East.
Any Kentucky opponent will have to solve a ridiculously talented and deep front line, guards in Aaron and Andrew Harrison who went through the NCAA Tournament wars to last year’s championship game, and freshman guard Devin Booker, who comes off the bench and could go into the NBA next season.
This is the deepest and most talented college basketball team in years. Kentucky outscored opponents by nearly 20 per game, outrebounded them by 7 1/2, limited opponents to 35.5 percent shooting from the field and 27.4 percent from the arc, and even intimidated them at the free-throw line. Foes shot a measly 64.9 percent from there.
The distance between Kentucky and the second seed in the tournament, Villanova, was such that Kentucky could have lost the SEC final and still have been the overall No. 1, NCAA officials said. I suspect Kentucky could have lost at any stage in Nashville and not have been moved from that spot.
The selection committee didn’t have to concern itself with that possibility.
The committee chairman, Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes, took questions from reporters after the bracket announcement and discussed seeding, how UCLA was included and Temple and Colorado State not, how Dayton was allowed to open the event on his home floor and about 25 more queries.
But he wasn’t asked one question about Kentucky. There really is nothing else to say about the Wildcats, who are so focused on finishing the quest that they passed up the net-snipping on Sunday.