5 Reasons Why Kentucky Wildcats Should Worry About the Belmont Bruins
5 Reasons Why the Kentucky Wildcats Should Worry About the Belmont Bruins
When it comes to college basketball, the only thing better than random upsets is a team that consistently pulls off major upsets. It’s early in the season, but the NCAA team that looks the most capable of being the “Cinderella team” that has recently beaten teams like the VCU Rams, the Butler Bulldogs and the Wichita State Shockers is the Belmont Bruins.
Belmont already upset the No. 12 North Carolina Tar Heels 83-80 in Chapel Hill after a disappointing loss to the Richmond Spiders. The Bruins lost the lead late, but came back due to the heroics of possibly the best player in the OVC, J.J. Mann, to pull off the biggest upset of the season so far.
Most teams from smaller conferences would be satisfied with just one major upset in the regular season, but Belmont isn’t one of those teams. The Bruins still face No. 10 VCU and the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats before entering conference play. Belmont will face the Rams at home in Nashville, and will definitely have a chance to win this game. However, a win over VCU wouldn’t be as satisfying as a win over one of the most storied teams in college basketball like Kentucky.
The Wildcats started out as the preseason No. 1 until their loss to the No. 2 (now No. 1) Michigan State Spartans, and are still favored by many to win the 2014 NCAA National Championship. Kentucky and Belmont, despite some tough matchups, could both win the remainder of their games until they face each other on December 21.
Kentucky could go into this game after beating North Carolina and get caught up in looking ahead to their matchup with their rivals, the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals. This is an extremely dangerous game for the Wildcats that Kentucky cannot afford to take it lightly if they want to finish the season with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Here are five reasons why Kentucky should watch out for Belmont.
Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS or add him to your network on Google.
Belmont already defeated UNC. They face the No. 10 VCU Rams at home before the Kentucky game. The Bruins are a team with a lot of talent all over the court and could beat VCU. If they have wins over both the Tar Heels and the Rams, Belmont could go into their game against the Wildcats believing they can win.
Belmont didn’t let the Tar Heels get more than three or four transition baskets all night. The only significant transition basket was late in the game to add to UNC’s lead before a Belmont timeout. Because of their speed and youth, Kentucky thrives on transition baskets. If the Bruins can limit the Wildcats in transition, they could cause Kentucky to start taking difficult shots and gaining extra possessions.
3. J.J. Mann
Senior J.J. Mann for the Bruins is averaging 19 points a game and scored 28 against North Carolina. This may not seem like a big deal when you look at the score lines in Kentucky’s games against non-ranked opposition, but if you take a closer look at the stats it could be quite alarming. Kentucky has let the highest scoring player on every team they’ve faced this season take at least 14 shots from the field. Mann will get open shots against Kentucky.
2. Rick Byrd
Rick Byrd out-coached Roy Williams. Let me repeat that. Legendary North Carolina coach, Roy Williams, was out-coached by a coach from the Ohio Valley Conference. There aren’t a lot of non-Kentucky fans that believe John Calipari is a better coach than Williams. It takes an amazing coach to pull off the kind of comeback that Byrd did against an experienced coach like Williams, and Calipari should not get overconfident.
1. Turnovers and Missed Free Throws
Kentucky has had problems with turnovers and missed free throws so far this season. It hasn’t looked like they have because they continue to win by such huge margins, but star freshman Julius Randle is averaging four turnovers per game and had eight against Michigan State. If the Wildcats face a team that rarely turns the ball over, mistakes could add up and lead to an upset. Belmont is the type of technically sound team that could give the raw talent of Kentucky major problems.