Everyone and their mother is picking Kentucky to win it all this year, and for good reason. The Wildcats from the east are undefeated and boast a bevy of NBA talent. But when the national media starts talking about who can usurp UK’s throne, it’s the Arizona Wildcats that have been getting the love.
Check out this article from our friends at numberFire.com, who have identified Arizona as the team with the best chances of knocking Kentucky out of the NCAA Tournament. Among the other teams to make the cut were Wisconsin, Duke, Villanova, and Virginia.
Chances Against Kentucky: 33.99%
I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’d love to see the two Wildcats match up in the Final Four. Both teams are super athletic and boast elite defenses. Kentucky and Arizona fall within the 99th percentile in defensive efficiency and are third and fourth, respectively, in Adjusted Defensive Rating. However, contrary to popular opinion, Kentucky’s actually better offensively — they’re fifth in the nation in Adjusted Offensive Rating, and fall within the 98th percentile, while Arizona ranks 11th and falls within the 96th percentile. (Adjusted Ratings per KenPom.com)
Their differences come in their respective styles of play. Kentucky has a relatively slow style of play, as they rank 252nd in Adjusted Tempo, while Arizona is 86th in the nation and tends to get up and down the court from time to time. If Arizona can turn the tempo up enough to make Kentucky’s bigs uncomfortable, it should be to their advantage. It would still be an uphill battle, but with their NBA size, Arizona has the best chance of anyone to take down Kentucky.