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No. 1-ranked Kentucky continues march toward perfect season

With the calendar turning to March on Sunday, we turn our attention to college basketball and Kentucky’s pursuit of perfection.

The No. 1 Wildcats improved to 28-0 after Wednesday’s 74-56 win at Mississippi State to keep alive their bid to become the first team since Indiana in 1976 to claim the national championship with an undefeated record.

Kentucky has three regular-season games left and, according to the Basketball Power Index, it has an 85 percent chance of winning them all. According to BPI, the Wildcats have a 74 percent chance of staying unbeaten through the Southeastern Conference tournament but only a 33 percent chance of finishing 40-0 and winning the national title.

The nation’s only remaining unbeaten team, Kentucky faces its toughest remaining regular-season test Saturday (1 p.m., CBS (8)) at home against No. 18 Arkansas (23-5, 12-3 SEC).

The Wildcats — whose 28-game win streak is the second-longest in school history behind a 32-game run that stretched from 1953 to 1955 — will travel to Georgia on Tuesday before wrapping up their regular season March 7 at home against Florida.

John Calipari has compiled a 180-37 (.829) record at Kentucky and has the best winning percentage of any coach in school history.

The Wildcats-Razorbacks game is one of four showdowns between top-25 teams Saturday. In a matchup of the top two teams in the Pac-12, No. 13 Utah will host No. 7 Arizona at 6 p.m. on ESPN (30). The Utes lost the first meeting, 69-51, on Jan. 17 in Tucson, Ariz.

Also, No. 10 Northern Iowa travels to No. 11 Wichita State at 11 a.m. on ESPN (30), and No. 19 Baylor hosts No. 20 West Virginia at 1 p.m. on ESPNU (320).

TODAY

Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks (7 p.m., Prime (50)): The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings took an eight-game winning streak into Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators to put themselves back in the playoff picture after winning one of their previous eight games. The Ducks (38-17-7, 83) bring the second-best record in the West into this battle between Southern California squads.

BEST OF REST — Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies (5 p.m., FSW (49)); Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers (7:30 p.m., ESPN (30)); Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning (4:30 p.m., NHLN (316)).

SATURDAY

BEST OF REST — Texas at No. 8 Kansas (2 p.m., ESPN (30)); Syracuse at No. 4 Duke (4 p.m., ESPN (30)); Boise State at No. 24 San Diego State (5 p.m., ESPN2 (31)); Wyoming at UNLV (5 p.m., CBSSN (333)); Brigham Young at No. 3 Gonzaga (7 p.m., ESPN2 (31)).

SUNDAY

Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets (12:30 p.m., ABC (13)): LeBron James, third in the NBA in scoring with 25.7 points per game, has helped the Cavaliers open the second half of the season with three straight road routs in which Cleveland has outscored opponents by an average of 21.7 ppg. James Harden, the league’s leading scorer with 27.2 ppg, and his beard are the main reasons the Rockets have been able to remain near the top of the Western Conference standings without injured center Dwight Howard.

BEST OF REST — NASCAR Sprint Cup, Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (9:30 a.m., Fox (5)); Los Angeles Clippers at Chicago Bulls (10 a.m., ABC (13)); PGA Tour, Honda Classic, final round (10 a.m., TGC (339), noon NBC (3)); No. 21 Southern Methodist at Connecticut (11 a.m., CBS (8)); Michigan State at No. 5 Wisconsin (1 p.m., CBS (8)); Los Angeles Kings at Winnipeg Jets (1 p.m., FSW (49)).

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.

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