Ragging on the Washington Wizards is relatively easy. When a team loses as often as the Wizards have recently, it is not rare to hear someone scoff at them before declaring something like, "I could play for the Wizards."
Let's be real: none of us are talented enough to play for a professional basketball team and I think we would learn our lessons pretty quickly. Yet, could a collegiate powerhouse defeat the Wizards? Former Maryland head coach Gary Williams thinks so.
As first blogged by SB Nation D.C., Williams was a guest on ESPN 980's "The Sports Fix" Tuesday, where hosts Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro were discussing whether ot not the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the No. 1 overall seed in this month's NCAA Tournament and Final Four participant, could beat the Wizards. Naturally, they asked Williams, who presented his take:
"Well, I'll tell you, you walk into some gyms -- and that would be one of them, Rupp Arena, we played there when I was at Maryland -- and you'd better be tough. Regardless of how good you are, you can get taken out of the game, with the crowd -- you just don't feel right. You can't play your game."
"I think for one game -- Kentucky couldn't play in the NBA or anything like that-- but for one game at Rupp Arena, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kentucky win one game. Because you're gonna have five players off [Kentucky] playing in the NBA and probably playing significant roles."
So Williams believes that Kentucky could beat Washington in a game in Lexington. Judging by some of the statistics, it might actually be possible.
Home Court Advantage
The Wildcats went undefeated at Rupp Arena this season, winning all 18 games. Meanwhile, the Wizards have eight total road wins since the start of last season and a collegiate atmosphere is much more raucous than one in a NBA arena. Advantage: Kentucky.
Both John Calipari and Randy Wittman have been coaching for decades, but Calipari has the edge as he started in 1982 (Wittman started in 1992, but played in the NBA from 1983-1992). Both have cultivated young talent as Calipari coached the likes of Wall, Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose in college, while Wittman oversaw the genesis of Kevin Garnett during his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Advantage: Even.
Kentucky boasts a starting lineup that features "National Player of the Year" winner Anthony Davis, who could be the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft if he decides to leave school early, and four other potential first-round picks in Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones. The Wizards, led by former Wildcat John Wall, have a solid lineup as well; Monday's starters included Wall, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Kevin Seraphin and Nene.
The Wildcats' starting five is probably the more athletic and explosive of the two and the most intriguing matchup would take place inside between Nene and Davis. Williams was kind enough to weigh in on that as well:
[Nene's] gotta cover [Anthony] Davis ... Kentucky's athletic ability is as good as pro teams. They don't have the basketball experience, obviously ... Kentucky runs good stuff. In other words, they get their best players shots, and unless you play great defense against that, I don't care if you're an NBA team or a college team, that's going to be difficult to stop."
The Wizards allow just over 100 points per game, which is 27th out of 30 teams in the NBA, so the Wildcats would not have to worry about "great defense."
Davis is the X-Factor. He is the kind of player that can influence opponents' shots just by looking at them with his piercing unibrow, so even if Wall and the other Wizards guards can penetrate the lane, they will have to get through Davis. Davis also almost never fouls out, so getting him into foul trouble would be difficult.
The Wizards, however, do have one statistic in their favor; they average about 16 more points per game than the Wildcats, but the latter also plays eight fewer minutes per game as college games are only 40 minutes long. Advantage: Kentucky
This is the kind of game that can only truly be played out in a video game, but considering the possibility that Kentucky's starting lineup could indeed be in the NBA next season, we can find out sooner rather than later. On that note, I need to go reserve my copy of "NBA 2K13."
Adam Vingan is co-founder and editor of Kings Of Leonsis, a Caps-centric blog, and is the Capitals Editor for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_KOL and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.