With only two teams left standing with perfect seasons, how will they measure up as teams get stronger in the weeks to come? Join NCAA Basketball odds analyst Megan Rochester as she takes a look at No. 1 ranked Kentucky and No. 2 Virginia and what to expect of their undefeated season down the road.
No. 1 Kentucky
What is it that’s kept the Wildcats on Top of the Power Rankings all this time? Sure, they are one of two teams left in the league with perfect seasons, but do they deserve to be in No. 1 over Virginia? Kentucky has been shooting a measly 30.3 percent in their last two games against two teams they should have shut out but had to go into overtime in both games.
In their last two games, Kentucky has shown us that they don’t do as well against a zone defense. They have to take a lot more shots from behind the arc and don’t seem to look inside enough. Plus, this Wildcats team just hasn’t found their balances yet. Which line-ups can work the most efficiently together? We can’t answer that just yet.
One thing is for sure. They have way too many big guys on the roster to be under-utilizing their inside game. They’ve got Cauley-Stein at 7’0”, Karl-Anthony Towns at 6’11”, Trey Lyles at 6’10”… I mean, come on, why is the ball not being passed into the paint more often?
According to Bovada, Kentucky is in the lead in the NCAA basketball odds to win the Championship at a 1-to-1 chance. Kentucky is a team with a sharp roster, but how much longer will they be able to keep their winning streak going as more teams begin to figure out their weak-spots? And if they lose, who will be the squad to strip them of their perfect season?
Georgia has a big zone defense that could be worthy competition for the Wildcats in early March. This coming Saturday, Kentucky is playing Alabama who looks plays tough defense with a lot more perimeter play than any other SEC team Kentucky has seen thus far. Florida has been a team under the radar, but is also considered to be one of the bests in the SEC and in the league. They have serious star-power on their squad like Billy Donovan, and will be making major improvements to their team before they see Kentucky on February 7th. Even better to take the win will be LSU who will play the Wildcats three days (February 10th) after what will most likely be an exhausting road battle with Florida.
No. 2 Virginia
Virginia made a nice little jump in the AP Power Rankings going from 5th to 2nd, and they also took away Kentucky’s five straight weeks as a unanimous vote for No. 1 in those standings. Many analysts and fans even believe that they should be the ones in the No. 1 spot instead of Kentucky, and they make an excellent argument.
As the only other team in the League with a perfect season, they Cavaliers have won all but three of their games in double digits, and are playing a much tougher schedule than Kentucky has been playing. They also just took a 10 point win over North Carolina State, which has proven to be a challenge for many other teams (including 4th ranked Duke). This is the first time since 1983 that the Cavaliers have reached the No. 2 position in the rankings, and Bovada has them listed with a 12-and-1 chance of winning the National Champioship (tied for third place with Gonzaga).
A game to really look forward to for this Virginia team will be on the last day of January against Duke in their regular season ACC match-up game (also though I’m sure it’s going to feel a whole lot more like a playoff game). Another great test for this Cavaliers team will be against No. 6 ranked Louisville Cardinals on February 7th.