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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky basketball fans have been thinking about a 40-0 season and national championship since John Calipari signed six McDonald’s All-Americans and kept Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein on the team.
However, even though it’s only mid-August, here is a reminder from Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News, one of the nation’s best college basketball writers, about what makes a perfect season seem a bit far-fetched.
Here’s part of what he wrote at sportingnews.com.
1) The Champions Classic is tougher: This year’s UK opponent in the Nov. 12 doubleheader at Chicago’s United Center, Michigan State, is Sporting News’ preseason No. 2 team and universally expected to contend for the NCAA title. The Spartans have nine of their top 10 players back from a year ago and nearly 80 percent of their point production. It’s a very challenging game for a Kentucky team that will, again, rely heavily on freshmen.
2) The North Carolina game is on the road: The Tar Heels do not lose often at the Smith Center. They almost never lose there to non-ACC opponents. They’ve won 63 consecutive non-conference games at the Smith Center — a streak that began in the 2005-06 season. Plus, that’ll be the first true road game for UK’s freshmen.
3) Louisville is a known quantity now: The team that went to Rupp in December 2011 became a Final Four squad, but only after finishing 10-8 in the Big East regular season. This Louisville team will be far more imposing.
4) Florida will be highly motivated: Presuming the Wildcats can somehow get through all of that and the SEC regular season schedule without falling, they will arrive at the Gators’ O-Dome to close the regular season on March 8. Can you imagine what the atmosphere would be like were the Gators in position to spoil an undefeated season for UK?
5) The NCAA field could be stronger: We can’t know what developments might affect the quality of the field when we get to March, but this season appears to be fairly loaded with Duke featuring forwards Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, Kansas bringing in super freshman Andrew Wiggins, Arizona loading up in the frontcourt with freshman Aaron Gordon and Michigan State and Louisville stacked as we’ve already noted.