Dick Vitale has had a lot of opinions about this Kentucky team and he hasn’t been afraid to share them throughout the season. Vitale has predicted the Cats’ stumbles more than once, but now, he feels that, like a boy going to his first tailgate at The Grove, the Cats had their “coming-of-age” moment in Oxford:
At Ole Miss on Tuesday night, Kentucky beat a ranked team for the first time this season. There had been other opportunities, like the Duke game in Atlanta in mid-November. Beating the Rebels was a statement game, and there were naysayers out there questioning whether the Wildcats were worthy of making the NCAA tournament. The rÃ©sumeÃ© was lacking before the boost in Oxford.
Kentucky looked more like a unit. Ryan Harrow did a solid job at point guard. Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin showed why there was so much hype as they played up to their potential.
The key was Nerlens Noel in the paint. He showed why he is one of the best shot-blockers in America, setting a school-record by swatting away 12 shots. When I saw Noel play in high school, I wrote that he was the best shot-blocking prospect that I had seen in more than 30 years of covering the game.
Vitale continues on to say that not only will the Cats go to the Big Dance, but have the potential to be a very dangerous opponent. Sounds good to me, baybee.