Mar 11, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari and his wife join the players as they prepare for the trophy presentation after defeating the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC Conference Tournament Championship game at Scottrade Center. Kentucky won 77-72. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky’s Path to the Final Four

John Calipari and company begin their 58th NCAA tournament campaign in school history tomo0rrow night. It is not just a few wins and an early exit that Calipari is looking for. No one in Lexington, Kentucky will be satisfied with anything less than cutting down the net in San Antonio. Kentucky always enters the tournament with a chance. They have only missed the tournament once in Calipari’s tender as head coach. Missing in 2013 was mostly due to the hangover from winning the championship the year prior. These Wildcats aren’t as impressive as in years past. However, the bar was set extremely high by the likes of Anthony Davis and John Wall. The stage is set, and Kentucky hasn’t seen a first-round exit since Billy Gillispie was the coach in 2008.

It All Starts With no. 12 Davidson in Boise

Davidson won’t be the toughest opponent that Kentucky will face, but it is a test none the less. Anyone can go down at any time in this tournament. Davidson’s three-point shooting is to be feared. If they get hot they could shoot Kentucky out of the gym. Davidson remains one of the best teams in the country from deep completing 39% of 3PA as a team. They have four players shooting over 40% and three players shooting 39%.

https://twitter.com/KentuckyMBB/status/973727407839502336

Everyone on Bob McKillop’s squad can stroke it from distance. This is not to say that Kentucky is a bad matchup. Kentucky’s perimeter defense has been a strength as of late. Their opponent’s all year have been attempting more threes than Kentucky, but shooting less efficiently. Kentucky actually ranks 4th in the country in opponent three-point field goal percentage. So, a major factor in the matchup will be who can hit more shots from deep.

The Path to the Final Four

Kentucky is very hot right now. Other than losing the last game of the regular season to the Florida Gators they have been playing excellent basketball. Behind freshman leaders Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox they have found chemistry on the floor. With the help of role players Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington, the team defense has improved. It is difficult to predict of the Kentucky Wildcats will play on Thursday when they face Davidson. Maybe it is possible that the lights are too bright for Calipari’s young guys and they get bounced out by an inferior basketball product. It is also possible that the Wildcats have truly improved since the start of the year. Winning the SEC Tournament is nothing to scoff at. They had to go through a lot of talented teams including 3-seed Tennessee. Some are saying this is the best year of SEC Basketball with a league record 8 teams entering March Madness.

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