NEW ORLEANS — So what do we make of this?
How does our view of Kentucky change heading into the tournament it really wants to win?
It depends on how you see it — whether you are a Kentucky fan or are hoping the Wildcats don’t make it back to Atlanta for the Final Four.
The optimistic Kentucky fan will tell you this was good for the ‘Cats, that as hard as it was to stomach this team needed a loss before the NCAA Tournament. They needed to feel that pain of going home without a trophy. And besides, didn’t their Fearless Leader say he didn’t care about this tournament anyway?
The pessimistic Kentucky fan (and those of you who are rooting hard for John Calipari not to get his first national title) will tell you the Wildcats looked vulnerable all weekend at this tournament. They were down to LSU before rallying, pushed to the limit of Florida and finally beaten by Vanderbilt.
Here’s what I think:
1. This is still the best team in the tournament but we all know the best team doesn’t always win this tournament. The Wildcats lack depth and it’s possible that these freshmen have worn down late in the season.
2. On the other hand, while the NCAA Tournament is a grind, it’s not three games in three days.
3. But Billy Donovan deserves an assist for Vandy’s win because he showed on Saturday that you can wear the Kentucky bigs down by playing fast. It also doesn’t allow them to set up their defense. Plus, you have to think Vandy’s players were a little fresher because of the way Florida ran Kentucky the day before.
4. Kentucky struggles at times with its half-court offense and we saw it during this tournament.
5. Still, the Wildcats are going to have the crowd with them wherever they go.
6. In the end, as always, it’s going to come down to match-ups.