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Five reasons Kentucky wins the 2014 NCAA Tournament

2014 NCAA Tourney Handicapping

After bringing in arguably the greatest recruiting class ever and being named the top team in the country in the preseason AP poll, the expectations placed on the Kentucky Wildcats were high. [ad-4468020]

The team hardly lived up to those expectations in the regular year, and found themselves slotted as an eight-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The team is finally starting to deliver on the promise it showed entering the season, and now the Wildcats are just two wins away from their third national title in three years, and inserted at +250 to pull off the feat.

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Here are five reasons the Kentucky Wildcats can win the national championship.

1. Julius Randle

Kentucky’s star has really picked up his game in the tournament. Randle has imposed his will in the paint and been a matchup nightmare for his opponents, recording a double-double in each tournament game thus far.

Even when Wichita State tried to take him away, Randle showed off his distributions skills, dishing out six assists to help down the Shockers. He’s averaging 15.8 points and 12.0 rebounds per game in the tournament, and as the lone lottery pick remaining, he’ll be able to dictate a lot of what happens the rest of the way.

2. The Harrison twins

Aaron Harrison gets most of the attention from pro scouts. He’s the better shooter, and when he gets hot, watch out. Michigan learned that first hand. Aaron was without a field goal in the first 31:52 of the Midwest Regional final before hitting four three-pointers in the final 8:08 of the game, including the game-winning three from deep in the closing moments of the game.
Just don’t overlook Andrew. He’s done a little of everything for the team. In the tournament, he is averaging 12.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds.

3. They can weather the loss of Cauley-Stein

Losing big man Willie Cauley-Stein certainly hurts, there’s no way around that, but that top recruiting class has some depth. In the Midwest Regional semifinal against Louisville, Dakari Johnson’s minutes went up when Cauley-Stein went down. He responded with 15 points and six rebounds.

In the Midwest Regional final, it was Marcus Lee who had the hot hand, and Coach Calipari rode him to the tune of 10 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks.

4. They showed an extra something in the SEC title game

After getting blown out of the water in their first two meetings with Florida, Kentucky appeared to be in a position to have the same happen again in the SEC title game, but instead, they clawed back and nearly stole one from the Gators, coming just a single point short of pulling off the comeback.

In a possible fourth matchup with the Gators in the title game, the Wildcats can enter that matchup with confidence that they can hang with their SEC brethren.

5. They’ve been there before

For the longest time, the book on John Calipari was that he couldn’t win the big game. Well, he has his Wildcats into the Final Four for the third time in four years, and in their last trip in 2012, the team broke through and won the national title.

Below we make a case for all teams in the Final 4.


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