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What’s with all the ‘Kentucky’s undefeated season’ talk?

Aug 22, 2013, 2:43 PM EDT


Maybe it’s because it’s August and there isn’t much else to talk about, and maybe it’s because anything written about Kentucky on the internet is sure to garner clicks, but it seems as if Kentucky going undefeated in 2013-2014 has become a thing that everyone is talking about.

Gregg Doyel of said he thinks Kentucky will go 40-0 on Kentucky Sports Radio last week. Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News and Nicole Auerbach of USA Today both penned responses that more or less list the hurdles that the Wildcats will have to clear to make it that far.

The guy that started all of this?

Well, John Calipari.

“We’re chasing perfection. We’re chasing greatness. We’re chasing things that have never been done in the history of our game,” Calipari said during a May news conference. “I don’t mind a little pressure. I’ve had it my whole career. I’ve had the gun to my head for 20-something years. And you know what? I’m at my best when the gun is to my head.”

And frankly, the chatter isn’t unwarranted. Kentucky has seven or eight guys that could end up being first round picks whenever they enter the NBA Draft, which is as much talent as we’ve seen on one team in recent memory. They also happen to play in the SEC, which is a league that offers up just one other team — Florida — that has a real shot of being a Final Four team. If Jeronne Maymon can’t get healthy, Missouri’s newcomers don’t mesh with their returnees, and LSU doesn’t live up to some of their offseason hype, there’s a chance that UK and UF are the only two tournament teams in the league.

That makes for an easy stretch run, doesn’t it?

But there are a couple of things to remember here:

1. There’s a reason no one has gone undefeated since 1976: It’s not an easy thing to do, especially for a team that’s essentially made up of freshmen and unproven sophomores. Every single game that Kentucky plays this season will be the biggest game of the year for whoever they are playing. It’s been like that since John Calipari arrived in Lexington, but that a) doesn’t make the process any easier and b) has nothing to do with the crop of newcomers coming to campus this season.

2. Michigan State is going to be really good: Trips to North Carolina and Florida are going to be tough games to win, and beating the defending national champs in Rupp is not going to be an easy thing to do, but I’d say that the most difficult game on Kentucky’s schedule this season will be their November 12th matchup with the Spartans in the Champions Classic. The Spartans are not only a top five team in the country and a favorite to win the Big Ten and make the Final Four, but they are a veteran group whose core has been together for a couple of years now. They’ve been through the ringer together. They also happen to have arguably the best game-planner in the country in Tom Izzo.

Kentucky is young. This will be the first time that this group of freshmen is playing on a college game on national TV against a team that’s any good. It will be at the United Center, and will be the third game that the Cats play in a five-day stretch. That’s a tough matchup that early in the season.

3. Are there enough shots to go around?: I’ve said this time and again, but the single biggest concern I have for Kentucky this season is that there may simply be too much talent on this roster. The reason that the 2012 team was so good was that their two best players — the top two picks in the 2012 NBA Draft — were essentially glorified role players. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis didn’t need to get a certain number of shots. They defended and they hustled and they set the tone for that team.

And this year’s group has more talent than the 2012 team. No one can convince a star to play a role like Coach Cal can, but this will be his toughest job to date.

Honestly, I hope that Kentucky makes a run at going undefeated. How much fun will their matchup with Florida to end the regular season be with a perfect regular season on the line? Imagine a Final Four with Kentucky playing Duke or Louisville with an undefeated record on the line. That’d be awesome.

It’s not often that we see history in sports, and that’s fun for fans (and for writers!!!), but if we’re being completely honest, I think that 40-0 is going to be much more difficult to achieve that Big Blue Nation realizes.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. senorpapino - Aug 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Look at the sources who make these claims. Its all

    1 – national reporters who no one has ever heard of nor have any real experience in terms of college basketball
    2 – idiots on the local Lexington/Kentucky sports channels – some of whom also predict UK will have a better football team than Louisville

    Even when UK had the first and second overall pick in the draft they lost twice. As of now, Randle is the only top five prospect they have. No chance they go undefeated. If all they guys stuck around for 2-3 years, then we’ll talk.

    • kingghidora - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      Only top 5 prospect???? Baloney. Both Harrison twins have been ranked in the top 5 by several ratings services.

      • senorpapino - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:18 PM

        NBA draft dippy “first and second overall pick in the draft”

  2. tomtravis76 - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    These kids won’t be able to handle the pressure that comes along with being the most disliked team for the upcoming season. They will be great for ratings, but non Kentucky fans will be rooting for this team to fail with this much unproven hype.

  3. jthammerstix - Aug 22, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    A+ talent. C- coach. Cal wouldn’t be at his best if I was holding the gun to his head.

  4. uk2ndbestinthestate - Aug 22, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Didn’t they say the same thing about last year’s team? How did that turn out for sUcK?

    • kingghidora - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      uk2ndbestinthestate – you know how jealous UL fans have to be to have to compare themselves to UK just to think they’re good. UL – we’re better than Kentucky. Really. I mean it. I really, really mean it. All those titles were a fluke. All those wins – forget those. UL is better. Really. UK is the second best in the state.

      UK fans – we’re #1. We’re #1. Notice we don’t have to mention UL.

  5. thurufally - Aug 22, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    It’s not just unknown or homer sports media, pUKe’s fans are predicting an undefeated season, too. And here’s why: It’s easier said than done.

  6. kingghidora - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    Why is it when a “few” fans claim an undefeated season is on the way that suddenly the whole BBN is saying it? It’s a difficult thing to do to win 40 in a row. Cal said he was chasing it. He didn’t say it was going to happen. But it certainly could happen. Anything is possible and sorry for all you UK haters, the Cats are loaded with talent. They have maybe more than any team in history. But they are young and green. We haven’t seen the first game yet.

    For all you people who love to crow about last season let’s see you overcome what happened to UK’s point guard and play baskeball in top form. And NO ONE said last year’s team would be undefeated. BTW have you noticed how well Archie Goodwin is playing now? The Cats had a load of talent last year. But winning without a focused PG is almost impossible.

    • senorpapino - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      Well no one has seen how well he is playing because the NBA hasn’t started yet. Remember the two co-mvps of the summer league last year? One went on to be rookie of the year, the other barely made it off the bench. We’ll see if Archie even gets any playing time this year.

      • kingghidora - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        Wrong. The summer league was a smashing success for Goodwin. Pay attention. Phoenix is thrilled to death with him saying they intend to build their franchise around him and another former UK guard, Eric Bledsoe. The Sporting News published an article that said, “…he has emerged as one of the brightest lights of the NBA’s Summer League…”. Not bad for an 18 year old kid. He still has to learn plenty but hey, he’s 18.

    • stlouis1baseball - Aug 23, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      Your questions is easily answered. I would even guess you know the answer.
      But I will help…
      The reason is because of all the obnoxious, shit talking drivel that the typical Kentucky spews on an almost non-stop basis.
      In a nutshell: They are a bunch of insufferable pricks.
      Just look at a portion of the posts on CBT. The proof is in the pudding.

  7. ukcatsfan - Aug 23, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    I love how all these non UK fans like to jump on the same bandwagon after UK has one tough season! Aren’t you all the same people who said the 2012 team couldn’t handle the spot light, would fade in the tournament just like the 2010 team? I would love to see a 40-0 season but I am also a realistic fan and understand how tough that would be. I will take a 38-2 NC any day!

  8. prov1x - Aug 23, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    NIT! NIT!

    • kingghidora - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:38 PM

      8 NCAA titles. 8 NCAA titles. Top recruiting class in history. Top recruiting class in history.

      • stlouis1baseball - Aug 23, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        Like…your post for example.

  9. Anoesis - Aug 24, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    It’s ancient history (at least as far as sports go) but there once was a team out west that won 88 in a row. UCLA was actually about two weeks short of going undefeated for three years.

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