Why odds are against Kentucky, Kansas
January, 8, 2014
By Seth Greenberg | ESPN Insider
USA TODAY SportsKentucky's Julius Randle and Kansas' Andrew Wiggins both play for very inexperienced teams.Defining the DNA of a championship team in today's culture of college basketball is not an exact science, especially when it comes to age and experience. Two of the last three national champions -- Kentucky in 2012 and Connecticut in 2011 -- were among the 20 youngest teams in Division I. If you look deeper into the rosters of both of those teams, you see talented young groups with strong leadership from players invested in winning.
There’s no denying that gifted freshmen make a difference. But without upperclassmen to emulate, it’s hard to create a championship environment -- which is what may prevent both Kansas and Kentucky from winning an NCAA title this season.
Here's a look at some of the key adjustments college freshmen have to navigate, followed by a comparison of how Kansas and Kentucky stack up against another underclassmen-laden title contender, Arizona.
Coping with the grind of a full season
One of the toughest things freshmen struggle with is the length and intensity of the season. Most arrive on campus for the second summer session and don't go home for more than a week prior to the start of classes. With the new NCAA rules, practice and conditioning begins in the summer and ends in April. It’s a constant battle each day.