Kentucky basketball: Wildcats hold steady in NET rankings but its go-time

Kentucky basketball holds steady in the latest NET rankings but needs to move up.

Ok, so we can start with a little positive news of the day that while Kentucky basketball didn’t play last night Wildcat fans can take solace that one of the two teams chasing them on the all-time wins list fell on Monday.

The No. 9 ranked Kansas Jayhawks fell to No. 2 Baylor 77-69 allowing UK to keep its slim 10-game marginal lead. North Carolina is struggling almost as badly as Kentucky this season with both having unprecedented poor seasons.

Kentucky 2,322

Kansas 2,312

North Carolina 2,282

The NET, which stands for the NCAA Evaluation Tool, replaced the RPI after the 2017-18 season and it is used as the primary sorting tool for selection and seeding for the NCAA tournament.

Kentucky started out at No. 133 three weeks ago in the initial rankings then rose to No. 97 last week and somehow edged up another spot this week even after the 65-59 loss to Auburn. They currently sit just behind South Dakota St. (No.94) and UC Santa Barbara (No. 95) and just ahead of Bryant (No. 97) and St. John’s (No. 98).

The Wildcats can make up ground but they have to win games against the meat of the Southeastern Conference schedule sitting before them and a date with Texas (ranked No. 12 in the NET).

Jacob Toppin commented after the Auburn loss that the mentality of the team has to be locked in for the Wildcats to be successful.

“I think everyone is dialed in, but we have to become more consistent. Sometimes when we are playing, some players will go off and play “me” basketball, and that’s what we don’t need. We will figure it out and stay consistent.”

There was little movement this week in the ratings but as conference play heats up expect teams to start really separating themselves. The top 8 remained the same with Virginia and Illinois swapping places to round out the top 10.

The current top NET rankings are:

  1. Baylor
  2. Gonzaga
  3. Iowa
  4. Tennessee
  5. Michigan
  6. Houston
  7. Colorado
  8. Villanova
  9. Virginia
  10. Illinois
  11. Drake
  12. Texas
  13. Texas Tech
  14. St. Louis
  15. Boise State
  16. Wisconsin
  17. Kansas
  18. Alabama
  19. Southern Cal
  20. Ohio State

It starts Wednesday for Kentucky when they tangle with Georgia, ranked No. 100 in the NET, and the Wildcats open as just a 2.5 point favorite. This is the game to level out what hopefully ends the two-game skid they are on.

As for the Southeastern Conference rankings:

4. Tennessee
18. Alabama
21. LSU
24. Missouri
35. Arkansas
44. Florida
69. South Carolina
78. Auburn
81. Mississippi State
85. Ole Miss
96. Kentucky
100. Georgia
121. Texas A&M
165. Vanderbilt

 

Kentucky takes on LSU on Saturday and has a rematch with Alabama on Tuesday before closing out January with Texas.

It’s go-time for this Kentucky team and they have to realize that its time to leave egos in the locker room and start playing for the name and tradition on the front of the jersey.

Dontaie Allen is from Kentucky and knows the tradition all too well. That’s why he needs to be on the floor.

There is time and John Calipari usually has his team’s ready for March but they have dug themselves into a big cavern. However there is still time to climb out with some quality teams on the schedule, and probably needing a deep run in the SEC Tournament only helps add more games for the selection committee to analyze.

In this week’s version of Bracketology Joe Lundari of ESPN doesn’t have the Wildcats in the tournament or sitting on the outside, but he does have six SEC teams in there along with Texas. Plus they have the win over Florida on the resume.

Ken Pom has the Wildcats sitting at No. 55 in his latest rankings so all isn’t lost just yet.

The traditional powers are absent from this week’s Associated Press poll that includes: Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan State, Syracuse, Louisville, and Arizona.

It’s the first time since 1961 that Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina have all been unranked. What a strange stat this is.