SMU's Larry Brown says Kentucky could be an NBA playoff team in East

Kentucky is the best team in college basketball, but could it make it to the NBA playoffs in the East?

Stop me if you've heard this one before: The NBA's Eastern Conference is so bad that college basketball's Kentucky Wildcats could make the playoffs.

Every year, there's much talk about whether the best team in college football or basketball would be able to beat an NFL or NBA team. As the NCAA tournament kicks into high gear on Thursday, a comment from Southern Methodist Coach Larry Brown leads us to our annual discussion.

"I don't want to put pressure on [Kentucky Coach] John [Calipari]," Brown said Wednesday, according to ESPN. "I feel real close to him. I'm so proud of what he's done. I think they'd honestly make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference if they were in the NBA."

Surely Brown was joking, but it gets us talking.

The SMU coach is in the unique position of being the only person to have led a team to a national championship (Kansas in 1988) and an NBA title (Detroit Pistons in 2004), but as bad as the East is in the NBA and as good as the undefeated Wildcats (34-0) are it's an impossible scenario.

Kentucky is expected to produce another five-player batch of NBA-ready players with Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson all projected to be first-round draft picks. 

But based on that, they'd be five deep going against fully developed professional athletes with full 13-player rosters. It just wouldn't be fair, even in the East, where three potential playoff teams are .500 or worse -- Milwaukee (34-34), Miami (31-36) and Boston (30-37).

"But I think in order for somebody to beat Kentucky, Kentucky has to play as poorly as they can possibly play, and somebody else has to play great because they defend so well," Brown said. "They rebound the ball so well, and he's got them playing as a team. It's going to be a test for anybody."

Anybody, except an NBA team.

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme

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