The Kentucky Wildcats (38-0) are on the precipice of history. With two more wins, they can become the first team since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers to go undefeated and win a national championship.
We’re talking almost 40 years here.
But it seems at least one member of that historic Hoosiers squad would be okay with it.
“Well, I want to see them have success,” Quinn Buckner said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “If that means going undefeated – and it has to mean that now – (I’m fine with that). These are young guys that are trying to do what all of us have tried to do in whatever we do in life. Their goal when they started, I’m sure, was to win an NCAA championship. Why would I have a problem with somebody else trying to do something that I was blessed enough to do? So I don’t have a problem with that at all.”
It’s a good thing Buckner was a member of the ’76 Hoosiers – and not the ’72 Dolphins, who celebrate each year when the last unbeaten team loses a game. Clearly, those guys want their accomplishment to stand forever.
“They view it differently, and I view it differently for them,” Buckner said. “And this is only my perspective. Those are pros there. Those guys get paid to do that. They get paid to try to get a championship and go undefeated and win every game. These are college kids. These guys are just getting started in their lives. This would be a terrific, I think, achievement for them. I think the bigger achievement, in my opinion, is winning an NCAA championship.
“I’m sure if you asked Coach Cal and his team, they would not be disappointed if they lost a game along the way and won an NCAA championship,” Buckner continued. “They’re now in a position that they’ve got to win every game in order to win the championship, so it just works out that way for them. But they’re a terrific team, they deserve the opportunity, and they’ve still got some ways to go. They’ve got a couple games to win before they get there.”
Kentucky would have to beat Wisconsin on Saturday and then either Duke or Michigan State on Monday to achieve immortality.
While going undefeated is obviously difficult, certain aspects can make each team’s quest more challenging depending on when they play.
“It’s relative to the era,” Buckner said. “The biggest challenge in anybody being successful is being able to stay focused and keep everyone on a singular mission. Being able to do that today is a little bit more difficult because you have social media. What Coach Cal has talked about fairly consistently is the clutter, which is basically those things that are unimportant to the success of the team. Pulling for your team, working hard, keeping focus on what you’re trying to do – trying to be able to do that today is difficult with young people (when) the goal on the other side (is) to make a living, a great living, in the NBA. That creates additional agendas. So keeping that out of the forefront of the minds of young people can be very, very difficult. That’s the challenge for these guys and Coach Calipari.”