Most national pundits have written off this Wildcat team and have said they are NIT bound or “First Four” quality at best. Keep in mind, those same people thought Louisville and Duke were the best teams in the country as well. And we see what has happened there. Once you get away from human conjecture and opinion and just look at the numbers, you can see that Kentucky is not as bad as the sometimes trolling pundits are.
Ken Pomeroy had Kentucky ranked #23 as of Sunday afternoon. Pomeroy has a unique algorithm as to how he ranks teams and he has gradually become recognized as the king of the stat gurus. Even ESPN’s power rankings have UK around 35th or so, which is not great, but is not NIT caliber. So despite the frustrating losses and the hair pulling closer than they should be wins, there is an upside to the potential of this Kentucky team. Which 19 games in, is rare. At this point, we think we pretty much know good a team is going to be and most teams have played at their ceiling level.
Except for Kentucky. Kentucky is the rare team that really does not reach their potential until February. Blame it on all the freshman, but in theory, no other team in the country will improve as much as Kentucky will. Rick Bozich helps to explain why that may be:
Draft Express issued its latest snapshot for the 2013 NBA Draft on Friday. The forecast remains blue with a teasing layer of persistent questions.
Only one team has three projected first-round picks.
It’s not Michigan, which figures to ascend to Number One Monday. The Wolverines have one — and Trey Burke isn’t even a Top 15 guy.
It’s not Florida, although the Gators clearly look like the dominant team in the Southeastern Conference. They’re unbeaten (6-0) and unthreatened, a third of the way through the SEC schedule.
Billy Donovan, Miracle Worker. Draft Express doesn’t credit Florida with a single first-round pick.
You know the answer.
It’s the same program as 2012 and 2010. It is John Calipari’s team, the Kentucky group that high-fived and high-stepped its way out of Rupp Arena Saturday after surviving an encounter with a sagging Louisiana State team that has now lost five of its first six SEC games.
Think about that. Michigan, one projected first-rounder. Kansas, two. Syracuse, one. Florida, zero. Kentucky, three. Consider it a reminder that the Wildcats (13-6) are both the nation’s most dangerous and daffy team.
And later in the article, Bozich had the line that best summed up these Wildcats: “What Kentucky has is a team that is too erratic for the best teams to fear but too talented for anybody to dismiss”. With that, I can not agree more. But as Benjamin Button’s transformation was confusing and erratic, so are the Kentucky Wildcats. The main question now is if this transformation will be dramatic enough to reverse the way the season is going and while the top teams struggle, allow the Wildcats to enter the NCAA Title talk as a true darkhorse contender.
We all know that time ran out for Benjamin Button. And it is rapidly starting to run out for Kentucky. The clock is ticking and Tuesday night at Ole Miss is going to determine whether Kentucky can pull off this reversal in fortune or become another example of a team that did not hit their potential.