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Topic of Debate: How Far Would This Year’s Team Have Gone in Last Year’s NCAA Tournament

It’s Friday…let’s have a little fun/debate, shall we?

Before a season begins, one way to attempt to gauge the anticipated success of a particular team is to find ways to compare them with other teams that have had success. For example, last year’s Kentucky basketball team was the ultimate definition of success. They won a national championship and dominated the college basketball scene from start to finish. This year’s team comes in with mostly a crop of new players, most of which have yet to prove anything on a college basketball court. Of course it’s unfair to say we can predict how the season will turn out for this team. There are so many unknowns from injuries to team chemistry to the talent level of the competition (and how injuries, team chemistry, etc. effect those teams as well). I’ve heard a lot of people try to compare this year’s team side-by-side, position-by-position with last year’s 2011-2012 Kentucky basketball team. For a number of reasons, I think that is a difficult comparison to make. First and foremost, the 2011-2012 team was arguably the best Kentucky basketball team in years. Second, after a year of being saturated with every single moment and play made by the players on the 2011-2012 team, we might have a hard time being objective. That team stole our hearts and we feel like we know the players like the back of our hand.

For the reasons mentioned above, I am not going to try to compare this year’s team to last year’s team. Instead, I am going to offer up another type of comparison. Looking at the rosters and players from the teams Kentucky faced in the NCAA tournament last season, with the information we have, how far do you think this year’s team would have gone in last year’s tournament? We may know more about the proven talents of the players on the teams we faced in last year’s tournament, but we probably know a lot less about them and feel less of a connection than to our Kentucky team from last year.

I’m going to attempt to make side-by-side, player-by-player comparisons, offering an opinion (though trying to be as objective as possible) about how far this year’s team could have gone with the same draw in the tournament. Feel free to agree, disagree, voice your reasoning as well. I think this brings up some good discussion points.

Round of 64: Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky and Round of 32: Kentucky vs. Iowa State

– I am going to forgo a side-by-side, player-by-player comparison for these 2 games. Barring a major upset, which of course has happened before with Western Kentucky specifically, I like Kentucky’s chances against Western Kentucky regardless of the year and the team. I think this year’s team would move by WKU without a serious threat. Regarding Iowa, although Royce White would have provided a formidable challenge for our big men down low, much like the contest in last season’s NCAA tournament, the level of athleticm Kentucky has versus the reliance on outside shooting needed for Iowa State to succeed would have resulted in a Kentucky win.

Sweet 16: Kentucky vs. Indiana

Point Guard: Ryan Harrow vs. Jordan Hulls (Adv- Harrow)

Shooting Guard: Archie Goodwin vs. Victor Oladipo (Adv: Goodwin)

Forward: Kyle Wiltjer vs. Will Sheehey (Push)

Forward: Alex Poythress vs. Christian Watford (Adv: Poythress)

Center: Nerlens Noel vs. Cody Zeller (Push)

First 2 off the bench: Willie Cauley-Stein/Julius Mays vs. Matt Roth/Remy Abell (Adv- UK)

*Result: I may meet some resistance with this, but I think player for player, Kentucky would have been the better team. The Cody Zeller/Nerlens Noel match-up would have been the key match-up in my mind. Although the advantages given to Goodwin and Poythress may not have been by the biggest margin, I still think both of those players are more talented than their counter-parts last season. The game would have been close due to the chemistry and the well-executed offense of Indiana late in the season, but Kentucky wins in a close game due to better talent at more positions.

Elite 8: Kentucky vs. Baylor

Point Guard: Ryan Harrow vs. Pierre Jackson (Adv- Jackson)

Shooting Guard: Archie Goodwin vs. Brady Heslip (Adv- Goodwin)

Forward: Kyle Wiltjer vs. Quincy Miller (Adv- Miller)

Forward: Alex Poythress vs. Quincy Acy (Push)

Center: Nerlens Noel vs. Perry Jones III (Push)

First 2 off bench: Willie Cauley-Stein/Julius Mays vs. Deuce Bello/A.J. Walton (Adv-UK)

*Result: Coming into this game last season, Baylor was considered to be one of the few teams able to go toe-to-toe in terms of athleticism with Kentucky. In reality, it wasn’t as close as people expected it to be. I do believe that Baylor team would be superior athletically to this season’s Kentucky team. I think Goodwin would be able to neutralize Heslip’s perimeter shooting with good defense and I think the battles between Acy/Poythress and Noel/Jones III would prove to be the difference. This one is almost too close to call, but I’ll give the slight edge to Kentucky due to Calipari’s coaching ability and the fact that all of his Kentucky team’s have been excellent defensively.

Final Four: Kentucky vs. Louisville

*Disclaimer: For playing time purposes I will consider Russ Smith the starting SG in this comparison and Chris Smith one of the first 2 off the bench. Keep in mind this is looking at last year’s Louisville team and not this year’s Louisville team (which i think will be better than last year’s Louisville team.)

Point Guard: Ryan Harrow vs. Peyton Siva (Adv- Siva)

Shooting Guard: Archie Goodwin vs. Russ Smith (Adv- Goodwin)

Forward: Kyle Wiltjer vs. Kyle Kuric (Push)

Forward: Alex Poythress vs. Chane Behanan (Push)

Center: Nerlens Noel vs. Gorgui Dieng (Push)

First 2 off bench: Willie Cauley-Stein/Julius Mays vs. Wayne Blackshear/Chris Smith (Push)

*Result: In reality, I think it’s almost a “push” at every single position. When Peyton Siva is at his best, I would give him the advantage over Harrow and what we know of him so far. When Peyton Siva is bad, Peyton Siva is bad. Simply due to experience, I’ll give the slight edge to Siva. A similar situation with the Smith/Goodwin match-up. I think Russ Smith has the ability to go off, but Goodwin will be the more reliable scorer on a regular basis. He’s also more physically gifted than a very small Smith. The match-up of the Kyles might determine the winner of this game. Whichever team would be able to get the most production from that position might find the small advantage in the final score line. Poythress and Behanan would be an enticing match-up of two very good young players. Noel and Dieng would be an intriguing match-up as well, seeing as both are more gifted on the defensive end than the offensive end. I believe if you played this game 10 times, Kentucky would win 5 and Louisville would win 5. If I’m trying to be extremely objective, due to experience, I might give Louisville 6 and Kentucky 4– but as you see, the margin looks to be very close.

I do think that if this year’s Kentucky team had played last year’s road in the tournament, and been able to beat Louisville in the Final Four–they would have had a great chance to win the national championship against Kansas. Kansas was a bit of an over-achieving team last season and I don’t see huge advantages at any position other than Thomas Robinson and perhaps Tyshawn Taylor at the point guard position.

The 2 biggest points of contention out of this whole comparison would be the Baylor and Louisville match-up. Do you think Kentucky would have held the advantage against both, one, or neither of those 2 teams? When comparing side-by-side, I think this year’s Kentucky team would have done no worse than the Elite 8 and could have had at least a 50/50 chance in each of the games leading to a possible national championship. Agree/disagree?

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

40 Comments for Topic of Debate: How Far Would This Year’s Team Have Gone in Last Year’s NCAA Tournament



  1. henry earl
    6:17 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    we haven’t even seen this team on a court yet. keep it in your pants, Ally.



  2. KSR Junior writers
    6:18 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    are pointless



  3. Corn Shucker
    6:20 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Harrow will abuse Siva!



  4. HicksPickSix
    6:21 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Let’s be realistic. As much as I hate IU, there’s no way Cody Zeller is a push against Nerlens.



  5. cats11
    6:23 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    They haven’t even played yet. They literally just got their picture taken.



  6. Jus Sayin
    6:23 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    I hate to say it but Victor Oladipo beat abused our best defenders and is a solid NBA prospect. The number 13 freshman in the country is not better than him.

    I hate Zeller but he outplayed Davis and it is inconcievable that Noel is as talented or college ready a Davis was.



  7. Corn Shucker
    6:34 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    6) Sounds like you’d like to be bed-buddies with Tommie Cream!



  8. sorry ally
    6:34 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    we would have lost to IU, oladipo was a true beast and zeller vs nerlens isnt a push lol



  9. PillowTalk
    6:37 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    6 said it.



  10. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    6:39 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    you’re sleeping on harrow



  11. Dickie Z
    6:56 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    #10 – on or with?



  12. UK Snuggie
    7:16 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Im a UK fan too, but to say that the Poythress/Wafford and Noel/Zeller match-ups are a push is crazy. I think that our guys will be good but there is no way you can honestly think that if these two teams were to play right now that UK would win. It’s one thing to be a fan but it’s another to be delusional; that’s what separates us from the Cards and the Hoosiers.



  13. E
    7:16 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    So I take it you all think UK has no shot at beating IU this year? As they are even better. I disagree. You all don’t realize how talented this team is. You will soon enough.



  14. E
    7:19 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    At the end of the day, the only spot they are better is center. And we aren’t too bad at that spot. You all are listening to the CBS writers way too much. IU is not a juggernaut.



  15. Bill
    7:19 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Siva advantage is laughable….besides Goodwin will be guarding him



  16. tdogg40330
    7:26 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Could Siva be the worst pg ever to start for a pre season
    top 5 team??



  17. UK Snuggie
    7:33 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    #13 you’re right UK has no chance to beat IU this year, they don’t play each other!



  18. jill
    7:36 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    LOL yall UofL will kill you kitty cats this year.LOL



  19. tdogg40330
    7:44 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    18) Calipari is 4-0 vs UL at UK, what makes ya think
    it’s gonna change this year?? And all 3 teams have been
    freshmen led …..



  20. jill
    7:48 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    No No Yall we will win the national championship this year in football and basketball..write it down UofL will win both



  21. UK Snuggie
    7:54 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Jill you must be high. U of L will get no where close to a national championship in football. Basketball is a maybe.



  22. BigBlueBallz
    7:54 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    @20, Seriously. This “rivalry” has become so lopsided it’s not even a rivalry anymore. As for football, both UK and UL have identical winning percentages in football historically and UK leads the head to head, yet UL is “prominent” because you had ONE great season. Congrats.



  23. tdogg40330
    7:54 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    20) JACK ASS



  24. lol
    8:27 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    noel pushes against dieng and zeller… would dieng push against zeller?



  25. LolOL
    8:44 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Zeller? Lmfao! Please show your face here again in M”arch. This Kentucky team will go undeafeted. You’re a troll if you think Noel isn’t the #1 nba pick. Noel can’t handle Zeller? Troll on pal.



  26. jill
    8:45 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Yes yall Cards will win the football national championship this year. LOL. And we have better facilities than yall



  27. LolOL
    8:49 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Why does anybody care about Louisville? Are you gonna talk trash about EKU next? Move on, it isn’t even funny. We’re an SEC school with National Championships. Come on, our rival is UT. IF Louisville is good one day, OK but until then just leave the lower class scools alone already, its silly.



  28. kevin lankford
    9:06 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    craziest thing I have ever read! Zeller and Noel a push but Dieng and Noel is adv Dieng!? Is the writer of this piece high? I’d say Zeller has adv over Noel and Dieng and Noel is a push. Also too many pushes for the IU UK lineup. Oladeppo (sp) is better than Goodwin IMO.



  29. guest
    9:35 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Lest we forget, NCAA basketball as a whole is down this year. This season is going to be so much fun, for me at least, b/c the pressure is off. I don’t feel like we HAVE to win to be successful, considering last year and the great class coming next year.



  30. Jimcats
    9:39 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Zeller is good. By tournament time Noel may be as good or better. But at mid-season I’d not want to overlook Zeller at all.



  31. Rae
    9:46 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    26. Just so you know, the playoff system doesn’t start until 2014, so this year’s championship is business as usual. And Big East football is not good enough to put UL in the top 2, even if you do really really well. It will most likely be whoever wins the SEC and UCLA in the championship game this year. If you go undefeated you might stand a chance at a good bowl game. But strength of schedule plays into it a whole lot, part of how Alabama got into the game last year.



  32. lol listen
    10:01 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    stop feeding the u of l trolls lol



  33. Hays
    10:04 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    31) USC***



  34. jill
    10:21 pm August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Rae, yall wrong we will win the championship because Strong is the best coach in the country and we have the best facilities. Yall we won the national championship in 2006 and will win it again this year. Yall cheat at everything lol. Yall have to vacate your championship but we wont ours lol.



  35. Bulldawg
    12:26 am August 25, 2012 Permalink

    Nice post Ally. I was entertained. I think you predictions are pretty close.

    @34 what national title did U of L win in 2006? The HOW TO SUCK IT title? Louisville is an ok place and the school is alright too, but the fans are what makes them seem retarded… Loserville is going to get beat by UK and most definitely NOT going to win a national title. They won’t even win the big least title. In basketball, injuries will mess with their chemistry as it seems to every year and Loserville will grossly fall short of title expectations.



  36. UK fan pretending to be jill from UL
    2:23 am August 25, 2012 Permalink

    yall all crazy foo efu tink UK Cats not gonna win it all cause we best with best playa n coach an we nat champs in 2012 so their lol



  37. duh
    6:54 am August 25, 2012 Permalink

    What have #34 and #36 been smoking?



  38. barn
    7:18 am August 25, 2012 Permalink

    34–are you on crack? you can’t vacate something you don’t/won’t have



  39. Beavis
    8:08 am August 25, 2012 Permalink

    Once again I see Jill is up past her bed time. Has a bad effect on her mind,,,makes her delusional and confused. Jill,,,please get help.



  40. king cat
    10:14 am August 25, 2012 Permalink

    get on a louisville site and they beg the moderaters to kick off uk trolls. jill must be so stupid that they won’t even let her on their own sites. yall. give us some taxpayer money and we’ll have nice facilities too.