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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kentucky-Notre Dame

Last night showed a few things:

1.  Notre Dame played a game worthy of a national championship title.

2.  In any other year, that effort might have earned them that title.

3.  Kentucky has a lumpy, transparent game plan that basically pounded the ball into the post and desired to foul out Notre Dame's one big man, Zach Auguste.  So much so, that it seemed that everyone else on their team stood around watching the offense for most of the game.

4.  Notre Dame's freshman big man, Karl Anthony Towns, will be a very good professional basketball player.  It's hard to imagine anyone save Joel Embiid and DeAndre Jordan coping with him at length in the post.

5.  Auguste perhaps outplayed the collective efforts of every Kentucky big man over 6'9" tall (with arguments, of course, that Towns excelled last night).

6.  Notre Dame's Mike Brey outcoached Kentucky's John Calipari last night, particularly with the strategy of having Auguste follow a penetrator into the lane for open putback jams after the Kentucky bigs thwarted the initial shot but then were out of the way. 

7.  While the Wildcats made a statement by demolishing West Virginia in the Sweet 16 round two nights before, perhaps their sense of destiny and invincibility got to their heads.  The NCAA Tournament cannot be that easy, can it?  Clearly, the Wildcats underestimated Notre Dame, and for a while it was as though each Wildcat not named Towns was waiting for someone -- anyone -- to step up, spark them and perhaps lead them on a run.  It just didn't happen.

8.  But despite all of that. . . last night's result, a Kentucky 68-66 win (after the Wildcats trailed for most of the second half) shows how hard it is to beat the Kentucky Wildcats and what a great team that they are.  Calipari, in his remarks after the game, was being honest when he said that the Fighting Irish played a great game and his team did not.  While it's a cliché that the mark of a great team is that they can play poorly on a big night and win, well, that's precisely what Kentucky did.  In tournaments, despite all the hype behind and beyond the '89 Princeton-Georgetown game, there's no such thing as a bad win or a good loss.  After all, despite Notre Dame's great efforts, it is Kentucky who is moving on.


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