After the season began, she was ranked No. 4 on the AP Top 25. Kentucky He missed a single vote in this week’s poll as he started 3-1 into the SEC game that included an embarrassing 78-52 loss Alabama Saturday was followed by a 71-68 loss to South Carolina on Tuesday that gave the Wildcats a 28-game winning streak at the Rupp Arena. 46th at the net with a 0-4 record in Quad 1 games, the Wildcats were a deep disappointment after losing National Player of the Year Oscar Cheppui along with other key players like Sahvir Wheeler and Jacob Toppin from a 26-8 team had returned.
After a stunning loss to 15th-placed St Peters in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, frustration with 14th-year coach John Calipari is at an all-time high among the British fan base. The show’s last Big Dance win came in 2019, and suddenly it seems like there’s no guarantee 2023 will bring a single win.
But with two months until this Sunday, Kentucky still has time to turn things around. Five-star rookies Casson Wallace and Chris Livingston have both shown encouraging flashes and should only get better as the season progresses. Sharp shooting guard CJ Fredrick is also due to return at some point in the league from a finger injury.
The range of Wildcats results remains wide, and the Calipari-era saga hits milestone numbers to capture the sport’s collective attention for weeks to come. For this week’s edition of the Dribble Handoff, our writers offer their end-of-season predictions in Kentucky.
Bubbles team cats, but they’re great fun
- Expected conference record: 10-8
- I predicted the NCAA tournament: Number 9
Kentucky has been mediocre all season and doesn’t seem ready to turn things around. The Wildcats blew Alabama by 26 points. They’ve won 3-3 in their last six games and are still zero wins in Q1, falling to 45th in the standings. Clear56 inches BartTorvik.com and 62 in KPIs.
Great Britain looks like a potential bubble team.
At this point, I’m skeptical that the Wildcats will live up to preseason expectations, which saw them as the No. KenPom.com, are basically in the top five everywhere and ranked as SEC favorites — but I still think they’ll end up on the right side of the bubble and make it to the NCAA tournament. And then…who knows? A year ago Great Britain had a great regular season followed by a terrible NCAA tournament. This year could be the opposite – a disappointing regular season followed by a boring NCAA tournament. The Wildcats still have CBS Sports National Player of the Year (Oscar Tshiebwe) and a likely lottery win (Cason Wallace). It’s not the most talented squad John Calipari has ever put together, but it’s still more talented than most coaches. Now it’s just a matter of knowing a few things, doing enough to get to field 68, and then seeing if things can break in the right direction when that single-elimination cycle begins. – Gary Ward
The British season remains bumpy but the big victories are yet to come
- Expected conference record: 11-7
- I predicted the NCAA tournament: Number 9
Although UK is 1-2 in the SEC I would expect it to be 2-2 after batting South Carolina TUESDAY NIGHT AT HOME – This conference is going to be so tough that we can’t reasonably expect the Wildcats to pull off anything bigger than a four-game winning streak before the postseason. There are seven road tests plus a home game on January 28 against second place Kansas In the latest edition of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Therefore, losses accumulate periodically. However, I expect Kentucky to find some resolve and ramp up their defense.
I expect it to pull off some crucial wins in Quad 1 and ensure it avoids bubble talk until the second week of March. It will end up being like the team in 2014 that was in the 8/9 game. Because with five losses already and likely at least five more by this Sunday, it’s optimistic to say that Kentucky will earn a single-digit seed. I’ll say it’s going to be tight thanks to his good performance on the SEC course. And: Kentucky will beat Kansas later this month. Matt Norlander
Wildcats made their move in February
- Expected conference record: 13-5
- I predicted the NCAA tournament: Nr. 6
There’s no question that Kentucky underperformed preseason, and even comfort prospects in the season after early struggles led to a reset. A 10-5 start to the season is low for Kentucky, even if they have serious problems. However, there are reasons for cautious optimism. This is quietly one of the best 3-point shooting squads Calipari has ever featured in the UK and Oscar Chebuy, for all his struggles, continued to flip the offensive glass and produce second-chance chances.
A few minor changes to player roles and an increased focus on doing what he’s good at – shooting 3-pointers, giving Cason Wallace chances to set the table and putting Tshiebwe in favorable positions – might be enough to make that happen turn things around. There are still some things on the touchline that need a lot of improvement – this team is terrible at taking free throws and they consistently hit the champ ball late when attacking – but I’ve seen enough positives to believe that them a No. 6 or 7 finish in the NCAA tournament and return to the top 15 at the end of the regular season. – Kyle Boone
UK in the First Four, one of the last teams in Big Dance
- Expected conference record: 9-9
- I predicted the NCAA tournament: No. 12 (first four)
Kentucky plays an archaic offensive style characterized by methodical tempo and limited ground clearances. Without an elite defense that can constantly create transition opportunities, the Brits are bogged down in their half of the field, struggling to find rhythm or build momentum. Schematically, at this point in his career, Calipari didn’t have the necessary threads to unleash the potential of this squad.
The SEC bottom feeders will ensure the Wildcats have a decent number of league wins. But Britain doesn’t get a regular-season rematch with No. 4 Alabama, putting the focus on two games against No. 5. Tennessee And two games against the No. 15 Arkansas. Outside of these competitions, a 21st place game Maroon And the Big 12/SEC Challenge game with No. 2 Kansas represents Kentucky’s only chance to add substance to his resume.
It’s hard to imagine the Wildcats doing better than 2-4 or 3-3 against Arkansas (2 games), Tennessee (2 games), Auburn and Kansas. Kentucky seems destined for the NCAA tournament bubble and I’ll take a hit at the Wildcats going down in the top four like other blue bloods like Indianaand State of Michigan and University of California You have in recent years. -David Cobb