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Kentucky Wildcats Betting – Can ‘Cats Ride Their Talent To A National Title?

Posted by Washington Tucker on 2/6/2014 9:50:01 PM
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Sports betting players have watched a rotating door of NBA talent come through Kentucky recently, but that hasn’t led to a national title yet under their head coach. The Wildcats have reloaded with a class some say is their best yet, but they have to become a cohesive and balanced unit (with a huge assist from their coach) if they want to hang another national banner in Rupp Arena.

Head Coach: John Calipari
Conference: SEC
Location: Lexington, KY
Arena: Rupp Arena
National Titles: 7

In 2009, the Wildcats stated their intentions to end their national-title drought when they replaced Billy Gillespie with John Calipari, and he took a team led by John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins to the Elite Eight. Calipari lost five players to the first round of the NBA draft, including a pair of top-five picks in Wall and Cousins, but last year’s team did even better than their predecessors, going to the Final Four before falling to the eventual champions from Connecticut. This was done without center Enes Kanter, who was ruled ineligible prior to the start of the season.

Still, Calipari had freshmen Brandon Knight (17.3 points, 4.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds), Terrence Jones (15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds) and Doron Lamb (12.3 points), but he also got contributions from junior Darius Miller (10.9 points, 4.6 rebounds) and senior Josh Harrellson (7.6 points, 8.7 rebounds), who may have been the biggest (literally) key to Kentucky’s NCAA basketball betting odds throughout the Tournament because of his size.

Knight, Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins and Kanter (even though he never actually played a minute for the Wildcats) departed, but it doesn’t stop for Calipari, arguably the best recruiter in the NCAA (whether you have issues with his ethics, that’s another story). Power forward Anthony Davis, point guard Marquis Teague, small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are all being tabbed to be high first-round picks, and another big forward, Kyle Wiltjer, is also a five-star recruit. Davis is a possible No.1 pick, a 6’10” forward with perimeter skills, but he is also an incredible defender reminiscent of Derrick Williams, who went No.2 last year. Teague (younger brother of Jeff, who plays for the Atlanta Hawks) steps into the void left by Knight, but like his predecessor, he has to work on his outside shooting.

Then you have the returning players, as Jones decided to come back and boost his stock, but he has to be sure that isn’t the only reason he is coming back as it could disrupt the chemistry of a team that already has an uphill battle to climb in that regard. Lamb and Miller are back and as well, so that should create some stability, although Miller is going to be pushed by Kidd-Gilchrist. It could take a few games to work out the wrinkles as the young Wildcats get used to Calipari’s dribble-drive offense, especially Teague, who has big shoes to fill after following Wall and Knight. Teague, like those two, comes in as a scoring point guard (although that’s arguable with Wall) and has to learn when to look for his shot and when to get the others involved. In particular, Davis and Jones have to get their touches as Kentucky has a pair of big men that can dominate.

There isn’t a better coach to handle this talent than Calipari, who has coached Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, a pair of Rookie of the Year winners in the NBA, while Wall finished second to Blake Griffin, so he knows something about NBA talent. But when it comes to Xs and Os, he could probably use some work. In their last two Tournament exits, the Wildcats have had issues when teams cut off their driving lanes and force them to shoot from the outside. You can even go back to his Memphis teams and say the same thing. Calipari has to do a better job of making in-game adjustments or at the very least, getting his team to improve their shooting from the perimeter.

NCAA basketball betting players have high hopes for the Wildcats, who come in second in the preseason rankings and are rated at +500 to win the national title, both behind North Carolina. Kentucky will get a few chances to test their mettle before the SEC season starts, as they host Kansas in their second game of the season on November 15th, and then there is the main event: North Carolina visits Rupp Arena on December 3rd in a game that everyone, from college hoops fans to NBA scouts, is dying to see. There is also the New Year’s Eve visit from their rivals from Louisville before a tough SEC schedule; Kentucky faces stiff competition from Alabama, Vanderbilt and Florida, among others.

It’s all about how quickly it takes this team to gel, and it took the Wildcats a while to come together last year, which is to be expected when you assemble a bunch of talent that have never played together before. But anything less than an appearance in the national-title game is failure for Kentucky, who haven’t won one since 1998, so they have to deal with that pressure as well. The Elite Eight should be no problem, but Calipari’s coaching will be the key to their Final Four and championship chances in your online betting book.



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