Daily Debate: Who would win a matchup between the Kentucky Wildcats and Philadelphia 76ers?
By: Amie Just | @Amie_Just
Kentucky’s basketball roster is stacked from top to bottom. The No. 1 team in college basketball has McDonald’s All-Americans bursting at the seams.
The team has been lauded as the best John Calipari has ever coached, predicted to finish 40-0, and the season is only a week old.
Now do a complete 180, only in the NBA.
This season’s Philadelphia 76ers have started out 0-10 and have been predicted to finish among the worst teams in NBA history.
Who would win between one of college basketball’s premier powerhouses and the current laughing stock of the NBA?
The level of competition that the 76ers see is unparalleled at Kentucky. Some of the phenoms Philadelphia has played against just 10 games into the season include Chris Bosh, James Harden, Dirk Nowitzki, Roy Hibbert, O.J. Mayo, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Jimmy Butler, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, among others.
Kentucky has played Grand Canyon and Buffalo so far this year, not counting exhibition games. The Wildcats had no problem with Antelopes, but Buffalo posed a tougher challenge.
The pesky Buffalo squad led Kentucky 38-33 at half and didn’t let off the gas until the last 10 minutes of the game.
If Kentucky has a hard time against Buffalo, a team who is 175th in points per game (69.0), 270th in assists per game (8.0) and 280th in field goal percentage (.324), how could they reasonably compete with Philadelphia?
Kentucky has been overhyped in the past, most recently, last year. Around this time in 2013, Kentucky was prematurely heralded as a team who could go undefeated. Shirts were printed up saying “40-0” two weeks into the season. Kentucky lost their following game against Michigan State and finished the season 29-11.
The Wildcats advanced to the National Championship in 2013, losing to the Connecticut Huskies, 60-54, but the season did not go according to hype.
While much of the country is feeding into the hype, Calipari isn’t going for it.
“Now we go (play) Kansas and it’s the same thing,” Calipari said after the Buffalo game on Sunday. “We probably need another hit in the mouth to see where we are.”
The 76ers aren’t the cream of the crop statistically, in Kentucky’s defense, but even so, Kentucky would still get clobbered.
It’s no question that professional athletes have the upper hand against college athletes. Philadelphia shooting guard Jason Richardson has been in the league since 2001. The Kentucky freshmen were in kindergarten when he was a rookie.
An argument on this same principle comes up every once in a while. Could Florida State beat the Oakland Raiders or the Jacksonville Jaguars?
The answer is no. Professionals are professionals for a reason. Amateurs are amateurs for a reason.
— Edited by Rob Pyatt
By: Christian Hardy | @hardynfl
For a long time the hypothetical discussion of a collegiate team defeating a professional team has been deliberated by sports fans. A few years ago, it was the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Jacksonville Jaguars in football. In 2012, some thought Kentucky could take down the Toronto Raptors.
It’s always been an outlandish thought that could be shot down in seconds. Now, it’s a more practical proposition than ever: No. 1 Kentucky against the tanking Philadelphia 76ers. Finally, there is a real argument to be made for a college team here.
We’ll start with the worst team in the NBA: the 76ers. Never before has there been a definitively and widely accepted worst team in a league until this team came along. Before the season started, sports experts everywhere knew one thing about this season— the 76ers are very, very bad.
The team’s rotation features six players who almost certainly wouldn’t be in the NBA if the 76ers weren’t tanking for a top pick in 2015: Hollis Thompson, Henry Sims, Robert Covington, Brandon Davies, Malcolm Thomas and JaKarr Sampson. You could pluck almost any six players off Calipari’s current Kentucky roster that would outplay those six players.
While you can make the case that the 76ers have experience that the Wildcats don’t, it doesn’t hold much substance. The 76ers are the youngest (23.3 years old) and least experienced (1.9 years of experience) team in the NBA.
The Sixers are 0-9 and lose their games by an average of 16 points. They will be considered lucky if they can pull 10 wins out of the 82-game NBA season.
Calipari’s Kentucky team might be the most loaded team he’s ever had. Kentucky houses nine McDonald’s All-Americans. To put that in perspective, Kansas currently has four on the roster. Kentucky also hosts the No. 3, 10, 19, 30, 32, 33, 37, 39 and 43 players in DraftExpress’ rankings.
That’s nine prospects that are bound to be NBA first-round picks. The 76ers have three first-round picks on their entire roster— the fewest of any in the NBA. In fact, only seven of the 76ers players were drafted at all.
This is a clash of a woeful NBA team, which could go down in the record books as one of the worst teams of all time against a Kentucky team that is filled to the brim with talent, and is heavily favored to win the National Championship.
Of course, this Kentucky team wouldn’t beat the 76ers 10 times out of 10, but, for once, a collegiate team would have a real shot to beat a professional team. There’s real reason to believe Kentucky could down this 76ers team.
— Edited by Ben Carroll