This season's iteration of John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats is so good that, for the most part, as long as it executes its game plan it will beat whomever it is playing.
Sure, Kentucky, which currently sits at 36-0 with a Sweet 16 matchup against West Virginia on Thursday, has played its share of tough opponents in tough environments. But, as a new Wall Street Journal feature points out, when the Wildcats prepare for a game they are mostly concerned about themselves.
Unlike the vast majority of high school, college and professional basketball teams, the Kentucky Wildcats do very little film study. In fact, the Journal's Ben Cohen writes that often Kentucky players will first see tape of their opponent on the day of the game.
John Robic, Kentucky's assistant coach in charge of video scouting, said the team goes with a "less is more" approach to film study.
"We don't give them a handwritten scouting report, and we don't give them film to watch on their iPads," Robic told Cohen. "My film is eight minutes -- max."
For example, with the Wildcats set to square off against Cincinnati last Saturday at 2:45 p.m., they first saw tape of the Bearcats at their 10:30 a.m. breakfast.
The irony here is twofold. Not only are the Wildcats so dominant even though they largely skip a routine crucial to most other teams, they are doing this in an era when video scouting is easier than ever. With quick and simple access to iPads and iPhones, transferring film only takes a few clicks.
In truth, Calipari has never been passionate about study. Past players, like current New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, told Cohen that they watched much more film in the NBA than they did in college.
Perhaps this means Calipari is a better strategic coach than anyone knew. Because rather than film the Wildcats are relying on their scout team to prepare them for the upcoming opponent. This group of backups mimics the opposing team in practice so by the time the real opponent appears, they should be fully prepared.
"You see the idea of their offense," guard Aaron Harrison told Cohen. "We don’t need to watch every single play. We need to know the options off each set they have. After that we just have to defend."
Of course, this sort of strategy is easier to implement when you have nine McDonald's All-Americans on your roster, which is more than all but one NBA team. Calipari is essentially wagering that his team, when prepped the way he prefers, is better than his opponent.
And with Kentucky just four games away from a perfect season, it's hard to dispute that logic.