Scooby Axson
Wednesday April 1st, 2015

David Richard/Associated Press

Earlier this season, Kentucky head coach John Calipari tried explaining his reasoning behind using a sort of platoon system to divvy up the playing time among his talented, mostly McDonald's All-America-laden team.

"This is not communism," Calipari said. "You've gotta perform."

While the Wildcats continue to shuffle moving parts of the nation's tallest and stingiest defensive team, one thing is clear: they are two steps away from a 40-0 finish and a place among the greats in college basketball history.

The rotation of mostly nine players have rarely been challenged this season, but they needed every bit of their talent, and perhaps luck, to squeak past Notre Dame 68-66 in the Midwest regional final.

First up for the Wildcats on their continuing pursuit of perfection is Wisconsin. Saturday's game is a rematch of a 2014 national semifinal, won by Kentucky 74-73.

While the Wildcats are slight favorites to take home their ninth national championship, Kentucky's opponents know there aren't many ways to beat them.

When a Kentucky player struggles to get his offense going, another steps up. Freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns scored only one point in the Wildcats's 78-39 destruction of West Virginia in the regional semifinal, but came up big against the Fighting Irish, scoring a career-high 25 points.

"What makes us unique.." Calipari says, "is there is no pressure on you to play great."

For more on the Final Four, check out this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).

Also in this issue, profiles of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, former Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson and a book excerpt from Arnold Palmer.

Subscribers and newsstands in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Eastern Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina will receive this cover.

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