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Five teams that could beat Kentucky

Kentucky is still the best team in America. But that's largely based on what the Wildcats achieved throughout the first two months of the season with victories over Kansas, North Carolina and Texas.

Their trek through the SEC, however, hasn't been as seamless. Some of that might be due to boredom and victory fatigue. They're clearly on a different level than the rest of the league, but that hasn't stopped SEC teams from tussling with them.

The Wildcats went to overtime with Ole Miss and double-overtime with Texas A&M. There was that single-digit win over Vanderbilt.

Kentucky reached 22-0 with a 69-58 win over Georgia in Lexington on Tuesday night that included a confident Andrew Harrison recording 23 points, seven assists and one turnover, and freshman Karl-Anthony Towns finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Mark Fox's squad was playing without injured forward Marcus Thornton (13.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG), who leads the team in scoring and rebounding.

It's easy to assume that the Wildcats just struggled again. But Fox has another theory.

“I don't think it should be perceived that Kentucky played bad,” Fox told reporters after the game. “It might be because the other team is competitive.”

Maybe that's the case.

Yes, Kentucky is still on top. And it's still difficult to see how a team will stop it from snatching the NCAA title in April. But the Wildcats don't look invincible anymore.

Here are five teams that could ruin Kentucky's title hopes:

1. Wisconsin: One miraculous shot. That's how Kentucky sent the Badgers back to Madison in last year's Final Four. Kentucky is even better this year, and it's deeper. But the Badgers have improved, too. They still present the same matchup problems with Wooden Award favorite Frank Kaminsky and with Sam Dekker so comfortable in space. Nigel Hayes is one of the most improved players in the country. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the trio combined to shoot 19-for-24 (79.1 percent) from the field in Wisconsin's 92-78 victory over Indiana on Tuesday. Right now, the Badgers boast the most efficient offense in America (1.25 points per possession), according to Ken Pomeroy. They'd be tough to beat in a rematch with Kentucky.

2. Virginia: Everything is a chess match with the Cavaliers. They're masters of controlling the pace. North Carolina has averaged 70.3 possessions per game. The Tar Heels played 64 against Virginia. Duke averages 68 and played just 59 possessions in its weekend win at Virginia. When things get tight, Virginia's execution on offense and defense -- sixth and third in efficiency, respectively -- becomes the most significant factor in the game. Kentucky is averaging 63 possessions per game, proof that its opponents have tried to slow things down to maximize their chances of victory. But no team dictates pace the way that Virginia does, and no team finishes opponents in those gritty matchups the way that Virginia can. That coupled with Tony Bennett's pack-line defense could prove to be the antidote for the Wildcats.

3. Duke: The dazzling conclusion to Saturday's upset win at Virginia that my colleague Eamonn Brennan described as “an 11-possession, 28-point explosion in the final eight minutes that turned the entire game -- and perhaps the state of the ACC race -- on its head” was some of the best basketball that any team in America has played this year. It is the Duke that the ACC and the college basketball world should fear. Kentucky wasn't the only team that began the season with nine former McDonald's All-Americans. Duke matched that tally. Jahlil Okafor is arguably the best player in America. Tyus Jones is one of the best point guards in the country. Sure, there would be questions about Duke's ability to handle Kentucky's big backcourt and its talent inside, but Duke's offense would be a handful for Kentucky, too.

4. Gonzaga: There's only one blemish on Gonzaga's resume. And it's more of a spot than a stain. The Bulldogs controlled most of the action in their 66-63 overtime loss to Arizona in Tucson. They stumbled in the final minutes of regulation and lost in extra time, but the Zags proved they could hang with a top-10 team in a tough road environment. Their strength of schedule is 98th per the BPI. But that doesn't diminish Gonzaga's versatility and talent. The Bulldogs would have a tough time keeping Kentucky away from the rim, especially in a man-to-man scheme. But the Wildcats would have a multitude of challenges with Gonzaga, too. And they would begin with 6-10 sharpshooter Kyle Wiltjer. Three Zags shoot 40 percent or better from the 3-point line. Gonzaga-Kentucky would be a competitive game.

5. Arizona: These Wildcats have a couple of troubling losses on their resume (Oregon State and UNLV). Since that two-point loss at Oregon State, however, Arizona has won six in a row by an average margin of 19.8 PPG. That stretch includes an 18-point win over then-No. 8 Utah. Stanley Johnson is a monster, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can defend multiple slots. A pair of 6-foot-6 athletic, NBA-ready wings would be a unique look for a Kentucky team that's often the cause of mismatches. Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley are capable in the post. Arizona's limited depth might be a problem in a game against Kentucky. But the Wildcats are playing as well as any team in the country right now. They wouldn't back down against Kentucky.