In this potential 2014 NCAA Tournament showdown, I’ve picked two teams that were on opposite ends of the college basketball spectrum to start the season. The preseason No. 1 overall Kentucky Wildcats were favored to go the entirety of the 2013 – 14 college basketball season undefeated and the now-No. 5 Wichita State Shockers are the team most likely to finish out the season undefeated.
Wichita State is 19 – 0 and, although playing in the fairly weak Missouri Valley Conference, deserves to end up a No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Shockers aren’t the Cinderella team they were in the 2013 NCAA Tournament; they’re a legitimate threat for the National Championship. Wichita State is an all-around talented team that continues to find new ways to win games.
Kentucky has had a fairly disappointing start to the season, but continues to get better game after game. Julius Randle started the season turnover prone, but has handled the ball better and excelled since the improved play of the Harrison twins. The Wildcats are the type of team that can get hot late in the season and jump into the Final Four. They weren’t preseason No. 1 just because of their history.
As crazy as it sounds, Wichita State seems like they would be more likely to win the match-up between the Wildcats and the Shockers. Tennessee would have beaten Kentucky in Rupp due to a dominating performance by the Vols’ big men and physicality, if they could have hit their three-point shots. Wichita State proved in their victory over the Volunteers that it is just as physical as one of the most physical teams in the SEC and, on top of that, have proven throughout the season that it is an excellent team from three-point range.
Kentucky has the talent and the ability to win the National Championship, but the Shockers are exactly the type of team that the Wildcats should hope to avoid early on in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Expect big things from two teams that should be favorites to make it to at least the Elite Eight.