The Kentucky Wildcats have lost two in a row for the first time since 2014. They have been ranked as high as #1 and now look like a team in danger of falling out of the Top 25. If the Cats lose to the suddenly tough Florida Gators on Saturday, they will do just that. Should we trust that Kentucky is not a contender to make it to the Final Four this season? That is a great question.
First we must look at the Wildcats under John Calipari. He always brings in a great haul of blue-chippers. Unfortunately for the fans of the Big Blue, this can be a mixed bag. Sometimes, he hits on a great combination of bigs and ball handlers, mixed in guys that can hit the three. They mesh together quickly and run roughshod over everyone in the college game. Last season’s team that went 38-0 before losing a nail-biter in the Final Four to Wisconsin, a great example. The 2012 team of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist among others, that lost only twice all season and won the NCAA Tournament was another.
Then you also have teams such as the 2014 team that struggled through the regular season, but had loads of talent. That teamed turned it on in time for March Madness, advancing all the way to the Championship Game of the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. They were a number eight seed in the NCAA Tournament and nearly won the whole thing. But then sometimes you get one of those teams where those great freshmen turned out to be a bit overrated, such as his team that missed the Big Dance altogether in 2013.
So is this year’s team a 2013 team or another 2014 team?
Right now, it would appear that they may be somewhere in between. When they are good, they can really play. Tyler Ulis is about as good at the point guard spot as anyone. But when they are bad, they look really bad. Skal Labissiere has given them very little in his freshman season. He often gets into foul trouble and gives them little as far as rebounding and scoring. Alex Poythress, the one guy with experience that usually makes a big difference on UK’s teams, is up and down. He too suffers from foul trouble often.
UK also tends to play to level of their competition. This is why they can become a tough out in the post season. They went to Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse where Bill Self is 200-9. They took the Jayhawks to overtime. But then they went to take on the Vols tonight, a team with a 10-11 record, and raced out to a 34-13 lead. Then Bad UK showed up the rest of the way. They couldn’t get a rebound on either end. They missed bunnies. And they looked flat. This resulted in UK’s first “bad loss” in quite some time. The loss to Ohio State earlier this season might be a bad one to some, but there is no doubt that blowing a 21-point lead to a sub .500 team is going to give the Cats fans heartburn.
Kentucky has road games left at Florida, at Vanderbilt, at Texas A&M, at South Carolina and at Vanderbilt. All of these will be tough wins for the Cats who are 2-5 on the road now. If they lose those games they could have 12 losses on Selection Sunday. That is assuming they win all of their home games where they have Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and LSU. They could very well not make it into the Big Dance.
The game with Florida on Saturday is a must win. If they all of a sudden are not a lock to win at home, they could be in big trouble. But this is the occasional bad that comes with the great of Calipari’s NBA Lottery Picks that play one year and leave. Every year is a rebuild and you just don’t know if your getting a 2012 team or a 2013 one.