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Can Kentucky be beat?

(Getty Images/Andy Lyons)

A sports writer at, an entertainment and social media website, wrote an article yesterday afternoon covering “Four teams that could beat Kentucky in March.” Bison Messink has high praise for Kentucky and says without a doubt he thinks the Cats have the best team right now. He seems satisfied suggesting Kentucky is the favorite to win the National Championship, but gives a list of teams who he thinks have the best chance to knock them out of the NCAA tournament. Here’s a hint of how much of a stretch this is: Two of the teams Kentucky has already beaten.

No, we don’t need to send the hounds after this writer; he’s giving a reasonable prediction. Only the next-best teams will have a legitimate shot to beat Big Blue — and these are certainly four of them, albeit a distant next-best.

North Carolina

But here’s the thing about Kentucky — they’re so young, they had perhaps a steeper learning curve than any other team in college basketball this season. They’ve improved immeasurably since the December meeting with North Carolina.

Still, the Heels are the only team that comes anywhere close to matching Kentucky’s overall talent level, and North Carolina’s trio of Barnes, Zeller and Henson have the size to give the Wildcats some trouble.

Messink raises a good point that North Carolina’s size can give the Wildcats trouble. But it’s hard to take it seriously when Kentucky has a win over this team already. To say North Carolina has a shot to beat Kentucky, when the Tar Heels are 0-1 on the season versus the Cats, seems insignificant.

He also makes another good point: Kentucky has improved immeasurably since December. What he fails to mention is what North Carolina has done since then; being blown out by Florida State and escaping a few close-calls against weak ACC teams and then losing a ten-point lead with two minutes to play, at home, against Duke last night. North Carolina has loads of talent, but they just aren’t playing like it.


The Orange don’t have the high-end talent that Kentucky has in Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist, but what Syracuse does have is incredible depth of talent. With their unconventional offense and defensive schemes, Syracuse is always dangerous in March. And this season especially, Syracuse has loads of something Kentucky doesn’t have: experience.

The matchup that so many media members are calling for is Kentucky’s speed versus Syracuse’s zone. An unstoppable force meeting an immovable object; which will prevail? If there is one team that can beat Kentucky, it is probably the Orange. But don’t buy the “experience” excuse.

We’ve been over this before, and we know it means nothing, especially when you consider a one-game scenario where literally anything can happen. If the matchup were to happen tomorrow Kentucky would have one thing going for it: they’ve seen a zone before. It seems doubtful Syracuse has seen a team with quite as much speed as Kentucky.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes do not have the offensive fire power that Kentucky has, but when they are at the top of their game, they’re probably the best defensive team in the country. Kentucky is substantially more athletic, but Ohio State has some muscle to throw at the Wildcats.

The problem in drawing up a game plan to beat Kentucky is that the Cats can beat you on either side of the ball, and that’s unlike most teams. Traditionally, you’re either a stellar offensive team but still allow the other team to score, or you hold the ball so long you keep the score low for both sides. Well, Kentucky throws that logic out the window just blows teams out of the gym.

Messink only mentions Ohio State’s defense in his preview and their physical nature, but what he ignores is Kentucky has already beaten physical teams. Even if the Cats are muscled around, Kentucky is right there with the Buckeyes in being one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague are two of the best on-ball defenders you can face, and Anthony Davis will straight-up block you. Pick your poison.


Like Syracuse, the Jayhawks have a veteran group, and Kansas almost as much size as Kentucky, and their older players are probably a little bit stronger. Kansas would be a longshot to take down the Wildcats, but they’re in the small group of teams that are capable of doing it.

Again with the experience argument, and again with a team that Kentucky has already beaten. Kansas is a better team than the one Kentucky played early in the season in Madison Square Garden, but, as I’m sure you’re aware of, so are the Cats.

Kansas has Bill Self on the sideline and Thomas Robinson on the floor, those two people alone can be enough to beat a lot of teams, but it still doesn’t stand a chance against Kentucky. Messink is right about Kansas being a long-shot, but honestly every team technically has a shot to beat Kentucky when the score is  0-0. That doesn’t mean you have to write about it being a possible upset.

The best part about this article, even though it’s not coming from a major national media member, is the realization it seems writers all over are getting. Something we fans have known all along. This Kentucky team is seriously good, and is far and away the best team in college basketball. It’s the hint of desperation from Messink, and his searching and stretching to see if something really exists capable of beating this team that is so funny. Messink didn’t do a bad job, but it’s like he’s basically come to the conclusion – without actually saying it – that Kentucky cannot be beat. Two teams that “could” beat Kentucky have already proven they can’t, so why are we having this argument?

There is no more chatter about Ohio State or North Carolina possibly being the best team, and other traditional powers are well below that mark. No discredit to these teams and others in the Top-10, but the fact of the matter is, you’ll need to hope for an off-day to beat Kentucky in March. These Cats are several cuts above the rest, and by my calculations, they plan to keep it that way.


Bonus mini-game: One of these images is not like the other. Can you guess which is good and which is bad?

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

57 responses to “Can Kentucky be beat?”

  1. mocha

    beat or beaten?

  2. Sleeveless Vest

    beaten…I wish there were more humorous articles on here

  3. Sleeveless Vest

    How many times and ways can the KSR writers, write the same story?

  4. DerbyCityGlobetrotter

    What a stupid question to begin with……

    There is 30 days left til the Tournament. There will be alot of changes between now and then. Way to early for all this kind of talk.

  5. FlySoup

    Whats with everyone on this site saying “you see what I did there” over and over and over again I see people saying this… is it a kentucky fad or something? (I don’t live in the commonwealth)

  6. Paducah Fan

    Yes, it will take an Indiana game type atmosphere where the crowd is a factor. Best chance is Saturday in Nashville or at Mississippi State, and I am only talking about the remaining conference games.

  7. Mr Schwump

    Of course they can be beaten. It was just a few short weeks ago that UK struggled on the road to beat a horrible UT team.

  8. Guy

    Is this your first season of college basketball, Stuart? It’s pretty naive to think that we couldn’t lose to a team like UNC who we only beat by 1 on our home court. Forget their recent struggles, their starting 5 match up very well with our starting 5. My prediction: Cats v. Heels national championship game

  9. Chris

    #8 – exactly. It shows the drastic overconfidence some UK fans have now.

  10. DC4UK

    Dumb article, yes they can be beat whether its in SEC play or in the NCAA tournament. Lets all hope its before March. If they do end up losing I hope its in Florida or maybe the SEC tourney. I see it as it would give them more of a chip on their shoulder. They ll def be a lil more hungry with a loss.

  11. Big Blue 66

    I actually think a not so obvious pick would be someone like Michigan State, very physical,very tested throughout the season, slow it down and well coached. They lost early but have gotten better. I would hate to see them in say the game to go to the elite 8 or even game to go to the final four.

  12. Big Blue Greenie

    Enough with these posts. Arrogant attitudes like this give UK fans a bad name. Of course we can be beaten. Do we have the best shot at the title, probably by a large margin. And that is something that the author of the piece that Hammer attempts to critique clearly acknowledges. Here is the lead-in to the piece: “So will the Wildcats win the national championship? They certainly have the best shot at it, but it only takes one loss to go down. It will take something special to knock Kentucky out of the NCAA tournament, but these are the four teams that would have the best chance:” Give it a rest. I know we as UK fans are hungry for some copy on our team, but articles like these will drive me away from this site.

  13. DevildogCAT

    This was a stupid post. Please everyone act like we’ve got it all wrapped up because we beat a few outmatched teams. Continue to talk about how we have #8 and JINX us into losing the first game of the tourney. Just shut up, enjoy the ride, and quit talking about UK like they are demi-gods.

  14. wilDCat

    This article was quite literally posted earlier, and I lampooned it then too. It’s dumb to think that just because we beat a team once, they can’t come right back and beat us. Any one of those 4 teams (well 3, not sure about Kansas) is easily capable of beating us if they’re on fire and we’re having an off night. Reversed we always win, but that’s every game.

  15. Big Blue 66

    to chime in with everyone else……i saw a freakin NC State team beat Phi Slamma Jamma with 2 dream team members…..anything can happen and anyone can get beat in the tourney, I bet if that Houston team played NC State 100 times, that one game may have been the only one NC State wouldve won…..but it was one a 1 game series, how interesting would it be if the NCAA tourney when you reach the final four you had a best 2 out of 3 and then the final two had a 7 game series

  16. JP7

    History is filled with teams that weren’t supposed to be beaten going down in March. There is too much arrogance by the writers of this site. Almost every day there is something about how great Kentucky is and no one else out there has a chance to beat them. With patiry being what it is in college basketball today, Kentucky could be beaten by pretty much any good team on a given night. The good thing is that they are improving by leaps and bounds and play great defense. Those things will take a team far come tournament time, but all it takes is one off night like the West Virginia game two years ago.

  17. Bringing Heat

    Nice logic, Hammer. Any of those teams certainly could take down Kentucky. Guess what? Kentucky lost to Indiana. Does that mean that Kentucky would have to be eliminated from a list of teams that could take down Indiana? This site is getting watered down with nonsense. Bring back BTI.

  18. Ryan

    To answer your question, yes. Yet will they be beaten?

  19. Big Blue 66

    Having said all of this, I would rather go to battle with our guys than their guys!

  20. Really

    Do you know anything about college basketball? What about last year when unc beat us in reg season then we won in tourny? If you actually believe what you’re posting, hammer, then I am a little astounded.

  21. orly

    KSR FEATURE REQUEST… WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO FILTER BY WRITER!.. The same people write the same crap over and over

  22. BigKitty

    I have to agree with the majority of these posts. Many of the writers on this site are becoming too arrogant to listen to anymore. We all know that this team is damn good, but there is NO reason to talk as if they are invincible. Honestly, I think Stuart is by far the worst out of all of them. I wish Matt would write more on a daily basis.

  23. DC4UK

    Glad to see people agreeing. We don’t need to be boastful and act like they will win by 20 everytime. Anything can happen. Now if we could get Uk fans on ESPN boards to be less arrogant annd embarrassing that’d be great. But what can ya do I stay off them.

  24. ChemCat

    Yes, UK can beat. We probably will be before the tournament begins. But UNC? Haven’t they lost Strickland for the season since the UK game? That was position (against Teague) where most experts gave them the edge. UNC may be a paper tiger.

  25. Drew Franklin's Beard

    Dont sleep on Baylor. They scare me more than Kansas or Ohio State does. They are a team with great athleticism and if they can get their crap together during the tournament they could start whipping teams.

  26. Big Blue 66

    26. Baylor has talent, but I not only think our guys are even more talented, but play harder and more as a team, I think we would score 100 against Baylors defense. Other pseudo athletic teams dont scare me (see florida), they are the ones we blow out because they have just enough talent to try and play our game. I dread the physical half court team

  27. Chester

    @5 yes, it is a kentucky thing. It is normally reserved for the sack, but we often take liberties and use that phrase in everyday lingo.

  28. Big Blue 66

    like i said earlier, a Michigan State or even maybe a Georgetown I would dread to watch us play

  29. stevie

    People keep saying that it would be Kentucky’s speed against Syracuse’s zone. This isn’t all there is to the matchup. What about Syracuse’s offense against the best defensive team in America. And, regardless of how deep a team is, only five players from a team can be on the floor at one time.

  30. dgtuk

    Of course not….we are invincible and everybody knows it ! C’mon Stuart…get a clue…enjoy the ride but let just a little air out of the inflated ego you seem to have about our cats right now.

    Hey Matt: sometimes more is less…the repetitive postings by writers who say 80-90 percent of what the writer two posts before them said is not adding much to the site. Still love it but reposting repetitive articles or referencing the KSRcollege site as if it ESPN hurts this site’s “credibility”. Of course given KSR’s orginal mission…maybe that’s OK LOL

  31. Apathetic Andy

    I saw the differences in the bonus mini game. One pic was a slow, plodding, lugnut who can’t jump. The other pic was Anthony Davis.

  32. Logic master

    Since we have already beaten NC, no problem. Since we have faced a zone, no problem. Since we have been muscled, no problem. So, since we lost to Indiana we hope we don’t face them again? If given a choice in the tournament, I’d take my chances vs an Indiana team we lost to vs. NC or Syracuse. Any given day as stated many times above.

  33. Truth

    Hammer hits another home run! Even better question though: Can they be beaten?

  34. Dukesucks

    Is Kentucky the best team yes. Does the best team win in collage,sometimes.Any team can get hot and beat you on the road.All your coach can do is put them in positon to win and let what happens,happen

  35. Dukesucks

    Neuter thamel

  36. BigBlueCats

    Yeah its possible we get beat. We may lose Saturday at Vandy and they arent as good as their preseason ranking indicated. The only thing they have is experience and a f’d up gym. There is nothing this team hasnt had thrown at them. All they can do is avoid an ego and play with heart and do what they do best. We know they have what it takes but if things fall in place for another team on a given night, then there is nothing that can be done about it.

  37. Rixter

    We were the overall # 1 seed in 2003, unbeatable.

    We were the # 2 overall seed in 2010 to Kansas, who went out early…leaving the Cats…unbeatable.

    Just stop it.

  38. D-Rock

    A truly idiotic post. We may very well get “beat” this Saturday. I realize the site is trying to get page views, but half of the posts these days are just filler.

  39. Drew Franklin's Beard

    #26. I agree. I was just saying that they have the same sort of players that we have position wise but there aren’t near as good as we are. I meant If they were to come together as a team like ours they would be dangerous. I can see them going far in the tournament if this happens.

  40. bigbill992001

    We’ve had an “off day” in the NCAAT each of the last 2 yrs. So, yes, we can be beat.

  41. Chris

    “To say North Carolina has a shot to beat Kentucky, when the Tar Heels are 0-1 on the season versus the Cats, seems insignificant.” What? Since we’re so fond of mentioning 1996, this would be the argument that said we had no chance to beat UMASS in the tournament.

  42. Still the best

    We could get beat this saturday in that F@cked up gym in Nashville. taking a loss before the madness begins may not be a bad thing – 1996 against Miss St sure didn’t hurt us – I just hope thos turds from Vandy don’t do it

  43. Kwildcat

    Anyone can get beat. Point blank period. Next question????

  44. Some Guy

    Good Luck

  45. Oogie Boogie Man

    It’s crazy how the hype machine has taken off recently… wasn’t it only 5 or 6 games ago that the boys struggled mightily against Alabama at home? And Matt Jones was lamenting that this UK team just wasn’t built to blow teams out? It only takes a small spark to set the Big Blue Bonfire to roaring!

  46. Doubting Thomas

    As mentioned several times already, the best team doesn’t always win. I believe the Cats to be the best team in the nation but that alone doesn’t guarantee them a National Championship. Have an off night and just about anybody can beat us. Play our best throughout the tournament and we’ll be hangind a banner. As everyone knows the NCAA is not our friend so we will get a bad draw. Give one of the other teams a clean trip to fthe finals and they could be rested and waiting. I’m hoping we win it all but I love this team even if they don’t. GO CATS!!!!!!!!

  47. Mr. Obvious

    I’m not a UNC fan by any means but to say they are insignificant because we beat them by 1 point on our home court is a bit ridiculous. Anything can happen in that tournament and it’s been proven that we are not as effective when Davis has been in foul trouble. Good thing that we don’t see him in foul trouble that often. I still say Ohio State is our biggest threat. I’m just not overly impressed with Syracuse though they are a very good team.

  48. MN CAT

    In the NCAA tournament, you should be nervous every game past the first round no matter how good your team is. Great teams lose all the time to far lesser teams. That possibility is one of the things that makes March Madness the greatest show on earth.

  49. Megan

    The argument that we can’t take UNC seriously because UK already beat them is nonsense. Stuart should know that. UNC came into Rupp, mind you, and showed that it was every bit UK’s equal. UK was fortunate to win. We can argue how things have changed since, but the mere fact that UK eeked out a 1-point win at home against UNC doesn’t mean UK will surely beat them again. Utter nonsense.

  50. sangaman

    This is asinine. A 1 point victory at home over UNC does not mean UNC doesn’t have “a shot” to beat us in a rematch. In fact, if a team wins a game at home by 1 point and later rematches the team they beat they would be underdogs. Just look at last season, when we spit the series 1-1 with just about every team in the SEC East.

    The editorial standards at KSR have really been waning. Theygot a positive bump after BTI left, but it’s getting very watered down here with a plethora of posts like this one.

  51. Drew

    As has been stated but can’t be said enough, it’s pretty ignorant to assume that because one team beats another in the early part of the season, they have the definite advantage. Tell that to last years UK squad…or look up stats that to prove your point. Just assuming UNC chance to beat UK is “insignificant” because we beat them by 1 pt @Rupp…Not a good point at all.

  52. Rex's Mullet

    Dear. Stuart Hammer,

    You are an idiot! That is all.

    Rex’s Mullet

    p.s. I have more basketball knowledge in my split-ends than you possess in your entire being.

  53. LeX98123

    if our cats bring their A game, i dont see anyone beating them, if they should have an ‘off’ night, then there are some teams who fould cause a problem for us

  54. Charlie

    Didn’t Stu write UK would go undefeated, too? This guy gives UK fans a bad name.

  55. Drew

    Not to be all negative Stuart; I do like the line about UK having played a zone, but Syracuse not playing anybody like us.

  56. Catsfan

    “To say North Carolina has a shot to beat Kentucky, when the Tar Heels are 0-1 on the season versus the Cats, seems insignificant”

    Didn’t UNC beat us in the regular season last year and we beat them in the tournament? Could they not do the same to us this year?

  57. Stevie Janowski

    terrible arguement by saying we beat them in the regular season so they couldnt beat us in the tournament. LSU beat Alabama regular season. Packers beat Giants regular season