The season began ranked No. The AP Top 25 ranked Kentucky No. 4. Kentucky did not receive a single poll in this week’s poll. This was despite a 1-3 start in SEC play. It included a humiliating 78-52 defeat at Alabama and a 71–68 loss to South Carolina. These losses snapped a 28 game winning streak at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats are ranked No. The Wildcats rank 46th in the NET, with a 0-4 record for Quad 1 games. This is a deep disappointment since Oscar Tshiebwe was named national player of year and other important players like Sahvir Wheeler or Jacob Toppin were part of a 26-8 team.
Following a shocking upset defeat to No. After a shocking upset loss to No. 15 Saint Peter’s, the UK fans are growing increasingly frustrated with John Calipari, the 14-year-old coach. It seems as though there is no guarantee that the Big Dance will be won again in 2023, after 2019 was its last victory.
There are still two months until Selection Sunday, and Kentucky has plenty of time to make things right. Cason Wallace, a five-star freshman, and Chris Livingston are both showing encouraging signs and will only get better as the season goes on. CJ Fredrick, a sharpshooting guard should return to play after sustaining a finger injury.
There are many outcomes that could happen for Wildcats, but the story of Calipari reaching an important juncture in his tenure will continue to be a focal point for all of sports for weeks. Our writers have provided their predictions for the remainder of Kentucky’s season in this edition of Dribble Handoff.
Cats are a bubble team but make Big Dance
- Record for the Predicted Conference: 10-8
- Seed prediction for the NCAA Tournament: No. 9
Kentucky’s season has been disappointing and they don’t appear to be on the cusp of improving. Alabama was 26 points victors in the Wildcats’ last game. The Wildcats are now 3-3 after six games. They still have zero Quadrant 1 wins.
UK appears to be a potential bubble team.
The preseason rankings that had the Wildcats ranked No. 1 in KenPom.com have been surpassed by me at this stage. KenPom.com ranks them No. 1, in the top 5 everywhere, and they are considered SEC favorites. However, I believe that the Wildcats will land on the right side and qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Then… well, who knows. One year ago, UK enjoyed a strong regular season that was followed by an awful NCAA Tournament. It is possible that this year will be the reverse — UK could have a disappointing regular-season followed by an excellent NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have Oscar Tshiebwe, the CBS Sports National Player-of-the Year and Cason Wallace as a lottery pick. Although it isn’t the best-rounded roster John Calipari ever assembled, it’s still more skilled than many coaches. It’s now a matter of learning some basics, making enough for the field of 68 and seeing if it can all work out in the single-elimination tournament.Gary Parrish
The UK season is still bumpy, but there will be big wins
- Record for the Predicted Conference: 11-7
- Seed prediction for the NCAA Tournament: No. 9
UK is currently ranked at 1-2 in SEC. I believe it will be at 2-2. South Carolina beat UK at home on Tuesday. Seven road games are scheduled, along with a game at home against No. The final edition of SEC/Big 12 Challenge 2 Kansas. The losses may stack up occasionally. But, I believe Kentucky will find some resolution and strengthen its defense.
It will likely win a couple of Quad 1 wins and avoid bubble talk before the end of March. It will end up looking like the 2014 8/9 team. It’s possible to predict that Kentucky will be a single-digit seed, despite five losses and likely five more between now and Selection Sunday. This is due to Kentucky’s performance in the SEC Tournament. Also, Kentucky will beat Kansas in the SEC Tournament later this month.— Matt Norlander
By February, the Wildcats were in full swing
- Record for the Predicted Conference: 13-5
- Seed prediction for the NCAA Tournament: No. 6
Kentucky’s performance has been below expectations, and it is even lower than the relaxed preseason expectations. This was despite struggling in early games that prompted a reset. Even if there are serious issues, a 10-5 season start is still a flat failure at Kentucky. However, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic. It is one of the most impressive 3-point shooting teams Calipari ever had at UK. Oscar Tshiebwe has been a tireless player on the offensive and has provided second chances for many.
A few minor adjustments to player roles, and a greater focus on what the team does best — setting up 3-pointers and feeding Cason Wallace with opportunities to make it happen and getting Tshiebwe in favorable positions — might be enough to change things. While there are still areas that could be improved, this team’s shooting is terrible and its offense runs late-clock hero ball. However, I have seen enough positives for me to believe it can become a No. 6, or No. 6 or No.Kyle Boone
UK is in the First Four and one of the last Big Dance teams
- Record for the Predicted Conference: 9-9
- Seed prediction for the NCAA Tournament: No. 12 (First Four)
Kentucky’s offensive style is antiquated. It has a slow pace and very limited floor space. UK lacks an elite defense capable of creating transition opportunities consistently and is becoming sluggish in its offense. In a schematic sense, Calipari doesn’t seem to have the ability to unleash the full potential of the roster.
It is likely that Wildcats will win a lot of league wins thanks to the SEC’s lowest feeders. UK will not face No. 4 Alabama, where the emphasis is on 2 games against No. 5 Tennessee, and two against No. 15 Arkansas. A single match with No. 21 Auburn, a Big 12/SEC Challenge match with No. Kentucky has two chances to make its mark.
The Wildcats are unlikely to do better than 2-4, 3-3 or against Arkansas (two matches), Tennessee (two), Auburn, and Kansas. Kentucky seems to be heading for the NCAA Tournament bubble. I will take a chance on Wildcats landing in First Four, as have other blue bloods like Indiana, Michigan State, and UCLA in recent years.— David Cobb