Wildcat Fever

by Connor Abbot ’14

John Wall. Demarcus Cousins. Eric Bledsoe. Rajon Rondo. Brandon Knight. These five NBA players dominate a young generation of future stars sure to make an impact on the NBA before their far away exit. Despite their different playing styles and teams, they all hail from the same university.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist uses Unrelenting Force on the court | Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist uses Unrelenting Force on the court | Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The University of Kentucky has been known to be one of the elite schools for college basketball, with 7 national championships, 10 trips to the national championship, and 14 Final Four appearances. They have the second most national championships, the most NCAA tournament appearances (a feat they hold along with North Carolina), and have the most wins in all of NCAA basketball, with a combined record 2072-648

To a normal bystander of college basketball, this seems to be a quality reputation for a flourishing program that’s still growing. Although, by going deeper into these statistics, you slowly start to see how the Wildcats haven’t necessarily lived up to their legacy in recent years. If you look at national championship years, you see a gap of 14 years between now and their last national championship. To put this in perspective, other storied programs such as Duke and UNC (University of North Carolina) have each won two national championships in this time. Although in recent years they’ve gone far in the tournament, such as a Final Four appearance just last year, that overall goal of being NCAA champions has seemed to be unreachable for the Wildcats.

Well, not anymore.

Kentucky, who currently holds the #1 spot in all of NCAA basketball, has just come off a fantastic year and brings back much of the same talent that they left with. Despite the absence of guard Brandon Knight, sophomore Terrence Jones decided to stay for at least another year to play with the freshman talent flowing in to Lexington. Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Marquis Teague all dominate the current freshman class and are lighting up the scoreboards for Kentucky.

Kentucky’s freshmen lead the team in assists, points, and rebounds. Despite these many individual talents, the team’s success has come from their amazing team play. The Wildcats have only lost one game: a one-point buzzer-beating loss to Indiana, where the Hoosiers hit a clutch three in the final seconds to win. Despite this minor setback, Kentucky has also defeated (at the time) #3 Kansas and #4 UNC.

To many, the polls have no effect on college basketball’s outcome. And it’s justified; those who rank first in the polls have similar chances to anyone else in the Top 10. But with Kentucky’s recent attack on the basketball world, they’ve shown how they’ve been able to defeat anyone that they play, truly taking out all of their competition. If the Wildcats are able to keep it up, they should have no trouble winning a National Championship.