The last month of basketball didn’t go as planned at Kentucky, but at least one national college basketball analyst believes the Wildcats are fine and there was never a need to worry about the future.
“There probably was never any need to panic,” writes ESPN’s Peter Keating. “A flu bug had hit half of Kentucky’s roster, and anyone could lose to Kansas and Florida.”
Today, Keating named Kentucky one of five “upset-proof” teams heading into March, determined by his “Giant” ratings.
“These are the Goliaths who are safer than they look, both from traditional and standard analytical viewpoints. In other words, these are the Giants who can make chalk pay,” Keating explains.
UK has a 95,3 Giant Rating, meaning an estimated 95.3 percent chance of beating an average NCAA tournament “Killer.”
Particularly from a Giant Killers perspective, Calipari’s crew is still primed for a deep NCAA tournament run. Four Wildcats regulars are shooting better than 55 percent from inside, and with few turnovers and top-30 offensive rebounding, Kentucky is scoring 119.6 adjusted points per possession, the seventh-highest rate in the country. They allow opponents to shoot just 32 percent on 3s (ranking 43rd). And they play very fast, averaging 74.1 possessions per game, 13th-most in the NCAA. So they just run away from the kinds of teams they are likely to see early in the tournament. On their way to attempting 71 field goals, amassing 21 offensive rebounds and forcing 19 turnovers against Valparaiso in December, the Wildcats led 23-4 after 10 minutes of play. That’s what Kentucky can do to a Killer. [ESPN]
West Virginia and North Carolina rank No. 1 and 2 in Keating’s upset-proof teams; Kentucky is the fifth safest from a surprising defeat, per the Giant Ratings.