Kentucky could beat Wizards? 'Absurd,' Van Gundy says

NEW YORK -- Apparently, I wasn't the only one who rolled his eyes and scoffed at former Maryland coach Gary Williams' assertion that Kentucky could beat the Washington Wizards. Stan Van Gundy, who literally rolled his eyes when asked about it Wednesday night, called the notion "ridiculous," among other things.

"Gary’s a guy who’s a great coach, who I have tremendous respect for, and who hasn’t coached in this league," Van Gundy said before the Magic played the Knicks.

It's one of my least favorite mental exercises of March Madness, when speculation -- however misguided or unnecessary -- circulates that one of the best teams in college basketball could beat one of the worst teams in the NBA. Williams was the latest to pedal such a theory, in an interview on Washington, D.C., radio.

"I think one game -- Kentucky couldn't play in the NBA or anything like that -- but one game at Rupp Arena, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kentucky win one game," Williams told ESPN 980. "Because you're gonna have five players off that team playing in the NBA, and probably playing significant roles in the NBA. And that's why I say that, for one game."

I'm not going to waste anyone's time repeating my thoughts on this; we went through it last month when esteemed colleague Jeff Goodman wrote that the Wildcats could beat the Raptors on a night when they had a particularly watered down lineup.

I'll simply let Van Gundy talk -- usually a solid idea -- and endorse everything he says. 

"Look, it’s absurd," Van Gundy said. "People will say, 'Oh, Kentucky’s got four NBA players.' Well, the other (NBA) teams have 13. … You play in the ACC and a good team might have two or three NBA players and then you go to the NBA and everybody’s an NBA player. Look, talent level, experience, age the whole thing.

"Could anything happen on a one-night thing? I mean, I suppose," Van Gundy said. "You have major upsets all the time, so maybe. But it’d be rare. And in a series, it’d be a joke. It wouldn’t be close. That’s just the way it is. John Calipari’s got a lot of talent. He does not have 13 NBA players. I mean, he just doesn’t. And even if those guys all are, they’re all NBA rookies. When has that ever been a success in the NBA? So no, they’re not going to win."

And now, perhaps Van Gundy's best point of all: Why are we even talking about this?

"And I mean, you know, I don’t understand why that even matters," Van Gundy said. "I mean, why do people bring that up? Just celebrate Kentucky and Ohio State and Louisville and Kansas for what they’ve done. They’re great college teams, those guys are great college players and they’re going to the Final Four. Just celebrate them for that. They’re great at their level. But let’s not get ridiculous."


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Ken Berger began covering the NBA when Kobe Bryant was a rookie. Somehow, he'll outlast him. Ken has multiple top-10 finishes in the APSE writing contest and one championship to his credit - the 2015 Metropolitan... Full Bio

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