The 2016-17 college basketball season opens next week.
By now, just about every major outlet has released some kind of preseason poll, the latest being from ESPN.
There, the Kentucky Wildcats came in as the third-ranked team, trailing only the Duke Blue Devils and Kansas Jayhawks. It’s pretty much par for the course with UK in the preseason rankings, which have had the Cats coming in that 2-4 range.
No. 3: Kentucky Wildcats
Yep, there's another crop of heralded and talented freshmen in Lexington -- not exactly breaking news. This group is long and ultra-athletic and should be a ton of fun to watch. Bam Adebayo is capable of a double-double every night, Malik Monk could go for 30, and De'Aaron Fox is a ridiculously fast point guard. Toss in holdovers Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis, and this team should have a chance to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. The question for John Calipari, though, is perimeter shooting from his guards.
Elsewhere, Jay Bilas did his best case/worst case scenarios for the Cats, who have as much talent as anyone in the country, enough that seeing them win it all won’t be a surprise.
Best case: SEC champs, Final Four, national championship. Kentucky has just as much NBA talent as Duke -- maybe more. But as has become the norm in Lexington, it is young talent. De'Aaron Fox is arguably the best prospect on this roster, and he will be a scoring point guard in the Derrick Rose and John Wall category.
Worst case: Second-weekend casualty. Youth is the only thing that keeps Kentucky out of the Final Four. Not every Kentucky team is able to overcome youth and inexperience to be of Final Four quality. Usually, it takes upperclass leadership to make the difference. This year, that falls to Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis. Unless those two show extraordinary leadership, Kentucky could have a few speed bumps on the way to Phoenix.
Bilas does go on to remind everyone that “Kentucky won 94 games the past three seasons. That success isn't stopping this year.” That’s
Over at SB Nation, UK came in as the No. 5 team, trailing North Carolina, Villanova, Kansas, and Duke. It’s mostly the same reasons that everyone who ranks UK below No. 2 are saying: Shooting and the lack of more experience in the post ‘could’ hold this team back.
I don’t think there’s much concern that, as long as this UK team stays healthy, 30 wins is about the minimum we should expect from them. This team has too much talent, character, work ethic, motor, depth, and just enough experiencing to see them struggling to live up to expectations without injuries playing a part.
Where do you think UK should be ranked in the preseason polls?