After the Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Davidson Wildcats on Thursday, UK assistant coaches Tony Barbee and Joel Justus remained in Taco Bell Arena for the next game. Like most of the bracket obsessed public, the coaches assumed that Kentucky would play another set of Wildcats in the second round, those from Arizona. Buffalo, however, was upset-minded and defeated Arizona 89-68 in a game that wasn’t particularly close in the second half. If head coach John Calipari needed any extra reminder to help his young Cats focus, the Bulls provided it.
Then on Friday, 16th seed University of Maryland-Baltimore County defeated the number one overall seed Virginia 74-54. We’re now living in a world where anyone can beat anyone. The impossible is now possible.
Coach Calipari should have the Wildcats’ full attention as they get ready to take on the Buffalo Bulls. The Cats have to fight the temptation to look ahead to Atlanta and a regional that seems much more wide open than it did on Selection Sunday. The Bulls, led by head coach Nate Oats, are a confident bunch and they’ve already proven that they can play with one of the top teams of the county and send a blueblood program home.
Buffalo pressured Arizona all night, making the UA guards extremely uncomfortable and made it difficult for Deandre Ayton and fellow Wildcat big man Dusan Ristic. Even though Ristic (16 points) and Ayton (14 points to go with 13 rebounds), had respectable numbers, the Bulls were able to limit their effectiveness. Arizona shot 2-18 from from three point range, while Buffalo finished 15-30.
Kentucky is going to have to defend the three really well, something that the Cats have been statistically very well at all year as they’ve been consistently in the top 5 when it comes to opponent three point defense. CJ Massinburg (5-8), Wes Clark (3-5) and Jeremy Harris (3-9) were locked in against Arizona and if Kentucky doesn’t run them off the line, the Cats could be in trouble.
Yes, the Big Blue Nation may be already looking forward to Cat-lanta and a possible trip to San Antonio for the Final Four. Coach Cal and the Cats, however, don’t have that luxury. Kentucky is going to have to play poised on offense and communicate on defense if they’re going to run with the Bulls and punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.