Kentucky Basketball: Wildcats #1 Again

We're #1 left and right!

As expected, both the Coaches and Associated Press poll elevated Kentucky to #1 for the second time this year. Tomorrow, the Wildcats will have their first test at the top, on the road vs. the Georgia Bulldogs.

To my thinking, Kentucky has been up and down over the last few games, barely eeking out a win at Tennessee (but to be fair, the Vols are improved). Then Kentucky easily handled the Arkansas Razorbacks in a game that, but for some crooked shooting, might have been one of Kentucky's better games of late. Finally Kentucky ground out a victory at home against the Alabama Crimson Tide in a game which saw UK miss many short, easy shots.

I think if I had to pick a team that was likely playing the best basketball right now, it would be Missouri. Defeating Baylor on the road is just very impressive to me. The Tigers have weaknesses, though, and if there is one team besides Kentucky who has the fewest weaknesses, it is certainly not them, but the Ohio St. Buckeyes. Since dropping that game at Illinois that saw the Buckeyes collapse in the second half, Ohio State has been throttling its opponents like they have something to prove.

If it sounds like I am down on UK, I'm not. They have earned this position and they deserve to be #1 in the land. The fact that they are not playing their best basketball (yet) can be seen as a glass half-full as easily as half-empty. No matter what others may tell you, in this writer's opinion, Kentucky's far from reaching their potential, and they are still winning every game. There's a lot to be said for that, and they are doing it with defense and by essentially refusing to let some spotty play stop them. After all, you want to be playing your best basketball in late February, not necessarily in mid-January.

I do need to say a word or two about the Syracuse Orange. That defeat at Notre Dame was a shock. I have seen Syracuse play many times, and it looked to me like they panicked after getting down about 12 in the second half, heaving up crazy threes from 23 feet over and over again. Up until that game, Syracuse had looked like a smooth wall, running over the competition with far superior play on both ends. I can't believe Fab Melo made that much difference.

By comparison, Kentucky has been down a few times in the second half, but they have yet to panic even once, and Syracuse is a much more experienced team. I think that says a ton about the confidence and presence of mind of these young Wildcats.

Okay, so here are the two polls, condensed, with some commentary afterward.

APRank Prev Delta Coaches Prev Delta Team Wins Losses Votes 1st SOS SOS Proj. SOS Rnk SOS Proj. Rnk Conference
1 2 1 1 2 1 Kentucky 19 1 1620 61 0.5370 0.5676 78 61 SEC
2 5 3 2 5 3 Missouri 18 1 1532 2 0.5291 0.5619 96 74 Big 12
3 1 -2 4 1 -3 Syracuse 20 1 1506 2 0.5917 0.6119 8 6 Big East
4 6 2 3 6 3 Ohio State 17 3 1411 0 0.5614 0.6006 37 16 Big Ten
5 7 2 5 7 2 Kansas 16 3 1383 0 0.5879 0.6095 11 9 Big 12
6 3 -3 7 3 -4 Baylor 17 2 1234 0 0.5848 0.6059 15 12 Big 12
7 8 1 8 8 0 North Carolina 16 3 1232 0 0.5508 0.5935 56 27 ACC
8 4 -4 6 4 -2 Duke 16 3 1176 0 0.6118 0.6130 1 5 ACC
9 10 1 10 12 2 Georgetown 16 3 1045 0 0.5702 0.5949 27 26 Big East
10 9 -1 11 9 -2 Michigan State 16 4 1009 0 0.6013 0.6299 3 1 Big Ten
11 12 1 9 10 1 Murray State 20 0 925 0 0.4643 0.4524 263 253 Ohio Valley
12 14 2 15 20 5 UNLV 18 3 886 0 0.5620 0.5866 35 36 Mountain West
13 16 3 12 16 4 San Diego State 17 2 832 0 0.5228 0.5668 109 65 Mountain West
14 17 3 13 14 1 Florida 15 4 709 0 0.5233 0.5745 107 51 SEC
15 19 4 14 18 4 Creighton 18 2 682 0 0.5316 0.5341 90 107 Missouri Valley
16 11 -5 17 13 -4 Indiana 16 4 609 0 0.5590 0.5854 44 38 Big Ten
17 21 4 18 22 4 Marquette 16 4 517 0 0.5792 0.5998 18 18 Big East
18 18 0 16 15 -1 Mississippi Sta 16 4 422 0 0.5375 0.5685 77 57 SEC
19 15 -4 21 17 -4 Virginia 15 3 414 0 0.5020 0.5475 148 90 ACC
20 20 0 22 19 -3 Michigan 15 5 396 0 0.5667 0.6037 31 15 Big Ten
21 24 3 20 23 3 Saint Mary's 19 2 345 0 0.5031 0.5099 144 137 West Coast
22 25 3 24 - - Kansas State 14 4 252 0 0.5585 0.5847 49 39 Big 12
23 - - - - - Florida State 13 6 244 0 0.5978 0.6043 5 14 ACC
24 13 -11 19 11 -8 Connecticut 14 5 203 0 0.5929 0.6225 7 2 Big East
25 - - 25* 21 - Wisconsin 16 5 182 0 0.5666 0.5964 32 20 Big Ten



23 24 1 Harvard 16 2 ** ** 0.4663 0.4775 254 189 Ivy League



25* - - Louisville 15 5 ** ** 0.5580 0.5954 50 24 Big East
















* Tie
** Coach's poll only

Comments:

  1. I think the Connecticut Huskies are still over-ranked in the Coach's poll.
  2. Shouldn't Vanderbilt be in there somewhere?
  3. Not buying Louisville at 25th. Beating the struggling Pittsburgh Panthers is just not enough.
  4. Baylor loses two back-to-back, one at home, and they drop only 3?
  5. The Coach's poll still has Duke ranked way too high.

Those are my thoughts. Feel free to add yours below.

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