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Who Kentucky fans should be cheering for

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For Kentucky fans, March is the time of year to cheer on the Cats for another national title run. While the three most recent seasons have given us many reasons to cheer, this one didn’t quite live up to the past. Now we as Big Blue Nation find ourselves in a foreign situation as we’re not cheering for upsets to give ourselves favorable match-ups, but rather cheering for upsets to take out our hated rivals. It’s undeniable that our arch-rivals, Louisville and Indiana, are threats to take home the national title, and many around the Commonwealth are already bracing for the potential nightmare of those situations.  While there’s nothing that John Calipari and company can do about this impending doomsday situation, other teams around the nation certainly have the opportunity to save Kentucky fans. Below is a list of teams which, in my mind, have the best opportunity of knocking off Kentucky’s biggest rivals.

Florida Gators

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Billy Donovan’s Gators have been a curious case this season. If you were to solely examine efficiency metrics you’d think they’re one of the better teams in the past decade. However, if you use the tool known as the eye test, you’d think the Gators would be overrated because of their struggles in close road games. Individual preferences for evaluation may differ, but it’s safe in assuming the truth about Florida lies somewhere in the middle. Regardless of road game struggles, the Gators are a strong team capable of knocking off Kentucky’s rivals because of their tremendous balance. Donovan’s squad is a highly talented shooting squad, connecting on 38% of perimeter jumpers and 55% of interior shots. They also take great care of the rock on offense with only one player, Scottie Wilbekin, averaging over two turnovers per game.  Unlike years past, the Gators play stifling defense. Much like their offense, this is accomplished with tremendous balance as the Gators rank inside the top-60 in every “Four Factor” category (i.e. shooting, turnovers, offensive rebounding, and free throw rate). Their activeness on this side of the ball has given opponents fits this season as proven by their 2nd ranked defense which is just points behind Louisville.

Ohio State Buckeyes

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The Ohio State Buckeyes will be a tough out for anybody in the country over the next two weeks because of their tenacious defense.  As it currently stands, the Buckeyes are 7th in adjusted defensive efficiency according to Kenpom.com, and much like Florida, such a high rating is accomplished with balance across the board. This balance is achieved with their length which not only allows them to disrupt opposing shots all around the floor, but it’s also paramount to their elite defensive rebounding.  As a unit, Thad Matta’s Squad isn’t the best team at forcing turnovers, ranking 125th nationally, but guards Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott have been infuriating opponents all season long with their physical presence.  Both average over 1.8 steals per game which can really disrupt an opponent who thrives on guard play like Louisville does. This season, Ohio State’s perceived weakness has been their ability to score efficiently, however, they’ve improved drastically in that area throughout the season. Deshaun Thomas is their leader in all aspects of offense; he leads in points scored, rebounds, free throw shooting percentage, turnover percentage, and fouls called per-40 minutes. Not to mention, the 6-foot-7 Thomas shoots 35% from the perimeter which is a nightmare defensive scenario for just about everyone. These Buckeyes aren’t the best team Thad Matta has ever coached, but they possess the right amount of mismatches and skill to knock off anyone.

 

Michigan State Spartans

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Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans are always the trendy pick in NCAA bracket polls, and for good reason.  Izzo has been so successful in March that he’s never gone four years without a Final Four Appearance as Michigan State head man. These aren’t fluke runs either, Izzo’s squads are always highly skilled and well disciplined which is a recipe for late season success. This band of Spartans is capable of living up to that billing as they’ve been difficult to stop this season due to their defense. Currently, MSU is ranked 6th overall in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com and they’re doing so with tremendous length and balance. This length allows them to stifle opponents’ field goal efficiency and take away potential offensive rebounding opportunities (an Izzo tradition). Their offense is led by two players in particular, Keith Appling and Gary Harris, both of whom average 13 points per game. As a team, the Spartans rank 22nd overall in offensive efficiency and do so with effective shooting and offensive rebounding. These traits could prove significant as Izzo coached teams typically advance deep in the tournament when these features are present. While MSU is a formidable team for anybody in the tournament, they may not have what it takes to knock out Louisville as they have issues with turnovers.

 

As Kentucky fans, we may not like having to cheer for other teams to take out our rivals while we sit helplessly at home (I know I don’t), but it’s what we’ve been reduced to this season. The three above teams, in my mind, have the best opportunity at knocking out our rivals not only because of their skill, but because of the path they’ve been given. Florida is fortunate to take on FGCU in the Sweet 16 while Michigan and Kansas do battle in order to advance. Ohio State, provided they get by a tough Arizona squad, should be able to get to the Final Four. And finally, Michigan State has a real opportunity to beat both Louisville and Duke, pleasing all Kentucky fans.  We may not like having to do this, but it’ll be a necessary evil for the next two weeks.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

34 Comments for Who Kentucky fans should be cheering for



  1. BBN in Columbus
    8:09 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    If you only knew the crap OSU fans say about us here you would NEVER root for them!



  2. James K
    8:10 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Basically any team that is a threat to have more championships than us.



  3. nice
    8:12 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    stupid article



  4. DrinknByTheBay
    8:12 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Agree with number one. I’m over in Hilliard, and the Buckeye hate for our Wildcats runs deep. Maybe they just can’t get over Brandon Knight’s jumper ruining their dream season. I’d love to pull for them, but they make it really, really hard. Go Cats!



  5. Seriously
    8:13 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I’m with 1…no way am I rooting for OSU. Or duke either of course.



  6. Kevin
    8:15 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Why are the writers here so afraid of Louisville and Indiana succeeding?? Insecure much??



  7. blueblue
    8:22 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t mind UofL winning it. Keep it in the Bluegrass and we’ll take it back next season!!! The only team I’m rooting against is DUKE!!!



  8. UofLOL
    8:26 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    “The Gators are a strong team capable of knocking off Kentucky‚Äôs rivals.” The thing is Florida “is” one of UK’s rivals. Never cared much for OSU and their arrogant fans, don’t like Kansas either. I’ll have to go with Michigan State, Michigan or Miami as the only schools left with an actual chance to win it that I’ll consider rooting for.



  9. old blue
    8:27 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I’m with #7. With the exception that I will be rooting agains IU!



  10. CreekCat
    8:29 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Anybody but Indiana, don’t care about the others nearly as much. If it’s not the Cats then I don’t give a crap as long as it’s not the Loosiers.



  11. Women Everywhere
    8:40 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Can’t stand the Looserville Cardinals, Indiana Loosiers, Puke Poo-Devils and Blowhio State Suckeyes….Guess I’ll cheer for the Michigan State Fart-ons or Arizona Mildcats



  12. Reality
    8:47 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    uofl would destroy mich state. duke would give them more problems.



  13. Used to live in CBUS
    8:48 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I agree with #1. I lived in Columbus Ohio for 15 years and moved back to Kentucky three years ago. Kentucky is hated in Ohio. They won’t even recognize Cincinnati; Cincinnati is referred to as “Northern Kentucky”. I would root for a Duke, Louisville, Indiana, Tennessee Final Four before I would ever give one ounce of support to that dreadful university. Screw Ohio State! Arizona is Wildcats. Keep it in the Wildcat family.



  14. David in Cincinnati
    8:49 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I’m with #1. The KSR writers and Matt have no clue just how much hatred OSU fans have for UK. I’m rooting hard against OSU first and foremost.
    It’s all about when one lives as to what team we root against.



  15. F A Bunch Of Ohio Anything
    8:56 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    No Way! Ohio State is almost as bad as Indiana. Almost.

    Go talk to an Ohio State fan for 30 seconds to prove my point.



  16. mashburnfan1
    8:57 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Agree it is OSU. I live in Ohio and they are unreal, even after we beat them it was bad. Still don’t want OSU, L’ville, IU or UF to win it. MSU I can kinda root for with Izzo



  17. B-man
    8:58 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I DO NOT want to see Indiana win. Of the teams that have a legitimate shot, I find myself pulling for the Gators for two reasons: (1) I guess it’s SEC loyalty (2) They have so few basketball fans that, if they did win it, you would never have to hear about it.



  18. Seriously?
    8:58 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Seriously? OSU? Ohioans in general turn their nose up at KY and laugh at us because they feel superior. Ohio State fans are like UK in that they have passion but they are totally classless. Ohio rednecks are not funny. They are dangerous. New List:

    Florida Gulf Coast
    Michigan St
    Florida if they beat FL GC



  19. BlueFins
    9:30 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Anyone but the axis of evil! I’m rooting for FGCU Eagles!



  20. Pancreas
    9:42 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    FGCU! Dunk city!



  21. Rixter
    10:07 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I’ve got 15 teams to root for!



  22. Rixter
    10:09 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    WOW, Arizona just got ‘Brandon Knighted’ by Ohio State



  23. Rixter
    10:11 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    And Syracuse is out-flopping Flopper U



  24. Chicago Chris
    10:35 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    Sweet 16 ring for IU?



  25. Chicago Chris
    10:37 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    I say Marquette winning would matter the least. Go Marquette WhateveryourteamisEaglesorsomethin!



  26. briinky
    11:40 pm March 28, 2013 Permalink

    No way I am rooting for Florida yuck! Why would we root for a rival of Kentucky? I can root for Ohio St, Michigan St, Michigan, Syracuse or Marquette to win the championship



  27. Taylor Swift
    2:18 am March 29, 2013 Permalink

    Florida? Why, because they are in the SEC? We play Florida on Rival week on ESPN. Plus, IT’S FLORIDA (I could go on forever but I won’t).
    Ohio State? Really? Just read some of the comments above. Enough said.
    I am all for Michigan State (Not really).
    After tonight, this tournament is really depressing. It wouldn’t take an outstanding team to win it (which is why I fear UofL will take it).
    It’s all good though, even without Wiggins UK should dominate a few teams (when I say a few I mean ALL THE TEAMS).



  28. Taylor Swift
    2:32 am March 29, 2013 Permalink

    SERIOUSLY, who is this DUDE who wrote this post? Ohio State and Florida? Well, from the choices you have given that’s pretty easy. But, I am not even entirely comfortable cheering on any Big 10 team. I know you thought about it before you wrote it, but DID YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT IT? When was Jonathan born, 1994? Get some perspective.

    Marquette has been suggested and that seems the most rational. I know, it’s the Big East and that sucks. But, we aren’t left with much of a choice.

    Go Cats.



  29. Taylor Swift
    2:40 am March 29, 2013 Permalink

    I never post. I am never inclined to post. I HAVEN’T EVEN READ THIS POST. But I did read the title and saw the pictures of Florida and Ohio State and my colon exploded. WHY ON EARTH WOULD FANS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY MENS BASKETBALL TEAM cheer for either of these two teams? To use the parlance of our times: WTF!!!!!



  30. Taylor Swift
    2:59 am March 29, 2013 Permalink

    Am I b*tching enough? I am only trying to fit in.



  31. Gary
    7:26 am March 29, 2013 Permalink

    Why do we need you to tell us who to cheer for? Gonna tell us who to vote for next? Must think we’re stupid………..



  32. JThom
    8:54 am March 29, 2013 Permalink

    Why does KSR keep telling us to root for Florida?! They are our biggest in-conference rival and the main reason we have missed out no conference championships in the last decade. Would Duke pull for UNC? Did Georgetown ever pull for Syracuse just because they were afraid of Maryland winning it?
    This has been the hardest tournament to watch because I have no rooting interest. Dunk City over UF!
    Enough has already been said about Ohio St.
    Bad article. Instead of thinking of teams to knock off our rivals, which by the way includes Florida, think of ways to make tournament watching fun.



  33. SmartCat
    11:04 am March 29, 2013 Permalink

    How about not cheering for anyone and continue therapy for that lackluster season UK had?????? I guess I would choose Robert Morris if you are making me.



  34. UKfanKathy
    11:27 am March 29, 2013 Permalink

    I have not watched any tournament games, nor shall I. I bleed blue and if UK is not playing, well, the tournament is insignificant. I shall root for anyone other than the team in the city which hosts the Kentucky Derby. I attended that little school and they are ignorant when speaking about UK. If there is any justice they will not win it all. And as much as I loathe Duke, if it were between the two of them, I would, for one game, be the biggest Duke fan ever. Hey, I would have even rooted for the big-mouth Crean if IU had won. So, goooooooooooo whomever that team plays.