Kentucky Men's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Kentucky Wildcats
SEC (34-0, 18-0)


Kentucky is on pace to achieve something that has not been accomplished since Indiana in 1976: a perfect season culminating in a championship.  They mowed their way through the regular season undefeated, dispatching inferior SEC teams along the way.  There were some close calls, but late in games Kentucky finds a way to close the deal every time.  John Calipari has found the right recipe for success with a roster chock full of superstars.

Big Wins: 11/18 vs Kansas (72-40), 12/13 North Carolina (84-70), 12/27 at Louisville (58-50)
Bad Losses: None
Coach: John Calipari

Why They Can Surprise:
As the odds on favorite to win the entire NCAA tournament, it would not be a “surprise” for them to hoist the trophy.  However, the reason they will win it all is simple: talent.  Calipari is the best recruiter in the country.  This season’s Kentucky squad is a great example of that.  He has nine McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster.  They are so deep that he runs a “platoon system.”  He has five starters and then brings in five fresh players off the bench that are capable of starting for any other team in the country.  When Alex Poythress went down due to a knee injury after eight games, the formula changed a little bit, but Calipari still runs with 10 or 11 guys.  He has been able to keep players happy while divvying up a lot of minutes.  They are also the best defensive team in the country (with all due respect to Virginia).  They are tall and long and make it difficult for anyone to get anything in the paint against them.  Additionally, they hold opponents to 27% from three-point range.  The tournament is theirs to lose.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The only thing that may give the Kentucky faithful pause is that it is March Madness and anything can happen.  The Wildcats have played a few games this season that were a little too close for comfort.  They have displayed youth and vulnerability at times.  Willie Cauley-Stein is a veteran leader as a junior, but most of the roster is full of freshmen and sophomores.  That could play a part in any impending upset.  Also, for most of the season, Kentucky has played against a weak SEC.  Granted, they played very good teams early in the year out-of-conference, but it has been two and a half months since they have gone toe-to-toe with a ranked opponent outside of Arkansas.  Are they tested enough for a 6-game run?  In all likelihood, none of these reasons will factor into a Kentucky loss.  They are the most complete team in the country.  Teams are going to have to make shots efficiently if they intend to spoil the Wildcats’ perfect season.

Probable Starters:
Andrew Harrison, Sophomore, Guard, 9.2 ppg, 3.7 apg
Aaron Harrison, Sophomore, Guard, 11.3 ppg, 1.5 apg
Trey Lyles, Freshman, Forward, 8.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg
Karl-Anthony Towns, Freshman, Forward, 9.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.4 bpg
Willie Cauley-Stein, Junior, Center, 9.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Dakari Johnson, Sophomore, Center, 6.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Tyler Ulis, Freshman, Guard, 5.6 ppg, 3.8 apg
Devin Booker, Freshman, Guard, 10.5 ppg, 1.2 apg
Marcus Lee, Sophomore, Forward, 2.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.6 (30th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 53.4 (3, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.8 (43, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 35.1 (1, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.4 (262, 12)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.1 (183, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.1 (97, 5)
Rebound Margin: 7.3 (13, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (41, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.7 (28, 1)

Recent Postseason Appearances:
2014    NCAA    Second Round win over Kansas State
2014    NCAA    Third Round win over Wichita State
2014    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Louisville
2014    NCAA    Regional Final win over Michigan
2014    NCAA    National Semifinal win over Wisconsin
2014    NCAA    National Final loss to Connecticut
2013    NIT    First Round loss to Robert Morris
2012    NCAA    Second Round win over Western Kentucky
2012    NCAA    Third Round win over Iowa State
2012    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Indiana
2012    NCAA    Regional Final win over Baylor
2012    NCAA    National Semifinal win over Louisville
2012    NCAA    National Final win over Kansas
2011    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Princeton
2011    NCAA    Round of 32 win over West Virginia
2011    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Ohio State
2011    NCAA    Regional Final win over North Carolina
2011    NCAA    National Semifinal loss to Connecticut
2010    NCAA    Round of 64 win over East Tennessee State
2010    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Wake Forest
2010    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Cornell
2010    NCAA    Regional Final loss to West Virginia
2009    NIT    First Round win over UNLV
2009    NIT    Second Round win over Creighton
2009    NIT     Quarterfinal loss to Notre Dame
2008    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Marquette
2007    NCAA     Round of 64 win over Villanova
2007    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Kansas

*all team stats through 3/8


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules