Kentucky's perfect season has been treated as an inevitability. With most brackets already busted, all eyes are on the Wildcats to pull off something historic. Standing in their way is a cagey group of Mountaineers that have grit, experience, and swagger on their side. Here are five reasons West Virginia will beat Kentucky:
1. They will out-rebound Kentucky.
In Saturday's win over Cincinnati, the Wildcats were dominant. One thing they didn't win, however, was the battle beneath the rim. With their massive size, Kentucky seems to take it easy going after rebounds, something that West Virginia's Devin Williams will make them regret. The 6'9" sophomore is built like a truck and might give the lanky Karl-Anthony Towns fits.
2. Bob Huggins has John Calipari's number.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins is 8-2 against Kentucky's John Calipari, the best winning percentage of any opposing coach with that many head-to-head games. Huggins is a tactician who can break down Calipari's bravado - something that propels the Wildcats, but can be shaken at times.
3. The Mountaineers use the whole court.
The full-court press employed by West Virginia can shake even the most steady of teams. Hounding and demanding, a lot of West Virginia's opponents have wilted against the defensive barrage. Kentucky, an incredibly young team, has had issues with the press before, and have also fell behind early. In the Cincinnati game, the Bearcats even held a lead with five minutes to go in the first half. True, Kentucky then blew them out, but the press will let The Mountaineers get out ahead early and give them a good chance of staying ahead.
4. The Mountaineers have swagger.
Say what you will about Kentucky, but they are a fairly non-demonstrative team. There are no huge personalities like John Wall or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in this version of the junior NBA. West Virginia, on the other hand, have been talking up a storm before the game, with Guard Daxter Miles telling reporters:
"To me, Kentucky, they don't play hard. To me they don't play as hard as we play. Nobody is invincible. To me, their time is going to come. Salute (Kentucky) getting to 36-0. But tomorrow, they're going to be 36-1."
It's going to take a near miracle to back up that kind of talk, but at least West Virginia isn't intimidated.
5. Because perfection is hard.
Kentucky has had a number of close-calls this season to severely undermatched opponents. They almost lost to Georgia and two other underwhelming opponents in the doldrums of January. Kentucky is obviously the better team on paper, but winning every single game is a tough feat, especially in a charged arena like the one in Thursday night in Cleveland. While the blue faithful will make the short drive to the Forest City, West Virginia fans will be there in drives as well.
Expect intensity, defense, passion, and an upset. Expect the end of perfection.
Photos by Photo: Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images