National Columnist

No. 1 seed: Davis makes Kentucky unit Calipari's most dangerous


John Calipari has a third all-star Wildcats roster since taking over at Kentucky in 2009. (US Presswire)  
John Calipari has a third all-star Wildcats roster since taking over at Kentucky in 2009. (US Presswire)  

John Calipari has had more talented teams at Kentucky. He has had more experienced teams. Better depth. Better backcourts.

But Calipari has never had a team better equipped to win the national title than this one, his third of three star-filled rosters since taking the Kentucky job in 2009.

This Kentucky team isn't perfect, especially on offense, but it has the most consistently dominant player Calipari has ever coached. Even when he was taking teams to the Final Four at UMass, Memphis and Kentucky last year, Calipari never had a player as consistently good -- as in every single game -- as freshman center Anthony Davis.

With Davis dominating games on defense and impacting them on offense, this Kentucky team can withstand slumps and erratic play better than either of Calipari's first two squads in Lexington.

Breaking down Kentucky

Record: 32-2

Why they'll win it all: The Wildcats score inside and out, not relying on any one scorer -- or the 3-pointer -- to win games. Freshman point guard Marquis Teague has gotten better at running the team, finding the right teammates, and Davis has blossomed into a game-changing force at both ends.

Why they won't: While Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are metronomes of consistency, the Wildcats' six-man rotation has four flighty players: Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Darius Miller, Teague. If all four have an off night on the same night ...

Player to watch: Shots fall or they don't, but Davis changes the game every time he plays. His dunks aren't given to whims, and his defense is a constant. Davis is a sure thing to get a double-double, and he has an outside chance at a triple-double given the way he blocks shots.

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One guy soaring: As of late, Jones has been playing like the All-America candidate of last season, not the infuriating mystery of this year. In his three games entering Selection Sunday, Jones averaged 16.3 points and eight rebounds, numbers that nearly mirror his stellar freshman production (15.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg), not his letdown sophomore results (12.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg).

One guy slumping: Miller entered the SEC title game in his worst slump of the season. In the three previous games -- including two in the SEC tourney -- Miller averaged 2 ppg, 1.3 rpg and 1.3 apg, with six turnovers. He had gone 3 of 12 from the floor and 0 of 5 on 3-pointers without getting to the line once.

Best off the bench: But when he's not slumping ... Miller is poised to become the third player in UK history (joining Tayshaun Prince and Chuck Hayes) with 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 100 blocks and 100 steals.

Notable stat: According to hoops statistician Ken Pomeroy, Kentucky ranks among the country's top 10 teams in offensive and defensive efficiency, good for an overall efficiency ranking of No. 1 nationally.

Final thought: It all comes back to Anthony Davis. The Wildcats don't have to be shooting well to win, not when he's affecting 10 or more shots every game. A good offensive night for the Wildcats assures victory -- but a bad offensive night doesn't rule it out. Not many teams have that sort of security blanket.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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