The Kentucky Wildcats captured their eighth national title last Monday night when they took down the Kansas Jayhawks in New Orleans.
The Wildcats were led by first-year phenom Anthony Davis, who put up a unique stat line, scoring only six points but grabbing 16 rebounds and blocking six shots. Davis took home Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament honors, to go along with his Naismath Player of the Year Award. It was Davis’ defense and length that gave the Jayhawks fits all night as he altered countless shot attempts by Kansas. Queens native Doron Lamb poured in 22 points for Kentucky, including two huge three pointers in the midst of a Kansas second-half run.
Kentucky was in control of this one the entire way, controlling the lead for all 40 minutes. They extended their lead to 16 with just 10 minutes left, but a furious Kansas rally trimmed the lead down to five, which was as close as Kansas would come.
The game symbolized the type of season Kentucky had. There were stretches where they looked a bit sloppy, due to their youth, but were superior the majority of the way. The Wildcats finished the season 38-2, and captured their first national title since 1998.
The title marked the first in the coaching career of John Calipari, a man whose recruiting tactics and one-and-done players have been the root of controversy at times. Calipari is known for recruiting talent that treats the school like a turnstile, staying for a year and then leaving for the NBA (see: Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, etc.).
It will be interesting to see what happens to this Kentucky team in the next couple of weeks. Many expect Davis to take his talents to the NBA and he is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. The futures of first-years Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague and second-year Terrence Jones are all still up in the air. If there is one thing we know though, it’s that Calipari and Kentucky will have no problem reloading with talent, as they already have three high school commits from the ESPNU Top 100 recruiting list.
The championship capped off a very exciting 2012 NCAA Tournament. While there was no surprise in the championship team, the first round saw its share of upsets. Two 15-seeds knocked off the highly favorite 2-seeds, something that has only happened four times prior to this tournament. Duke and Missouri both lost to Lehigh and Norfolk St. respectively, in shocking upsets that shook up the tournament perspective. Ohio, a 13-seed out of the MAC, reached the Sweet 16, and gave North Carolina all they could handle, losing in overtime to the Tar Heels. Indiana, one of the more proud programs in history, reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002. Louisville made an
inspiring run to the Final Four coming off their Big East Tournament championship, but wasn’t able to get past Kentucky in the national semi-final.
Another year came and another year of madness passed. From start to finish this season Kentucky was the best team in the country, and proved that throughout the tournament. We’ll have to wait till next March to see what madness comes next.