The 2017-18 college basketball season begins this week, and the Kentucky Wildcats are once again are a top-10 team in every major ranking.
Most polls has Kentucky in the 4-6 range, but others went a lower for what will be the youngest team John Calipari has assembled in Lexington.
The NBC Sports Poll from Rob Dauster has Kentucky ranked eighth, one of the lower preseason rankings for the Wildcats.
Dauster includes a “What we Like” and “What we Don’t Like” for each team. Here is what he had to say about Kentucky.
WHAT WE LIKE: There’s not denying the talent on Kentucky’s roster. They have eight former five-star recruits on their roster, three of whom spent last season with the program. They have size, they have length and they have athleticism. Even without Jarred Vanderbilt, who is dealing with an injury that could keep him out until January, there is enough potential on the defensive end of the floor to consider this group an SEC title contender and a threat to get to the Final Four.
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Defense isn’t going to be Kentucky’s issue.
Scoring the ball is.
Part of it is going to be perimeter shooting. Simply put, Kentucky just does not have that many guys that can consistently knock down threes. If you’re team cannot consistently knock down threes, you cannot space the floor. It’s that simple.
But beyond that, the Wildcats don’t exactly have a go-to guy. There is no one on this roster that is going to scare opposing coaches offensively.
Michigan State is at the top of the rankings, with Duke coming in at second in a surprising move. Arizona, Kansas, and Villanova round out the top five.
Wichita State comes in at sixth, and Kentucky’s SEC foe Florida comes in one spot ahead of the Wildcats at seventh.
The Kentucky vs. Florida matchups should be interesting this year as they will likely be battling for the conference’s top spot.
Rounding out the top ten for Dauster is Cincinnati at ninth, and USC at 10th.
Other rankings of note: Louisville (12), West Virginia (13), North Carolina (17), UCLA (18), Texas A&M (19), and Alabama (23).
Four SEC teams in the top 25 seems like a good step for the conference, with Missouri likely being not far behind. The conference slate for the Wildcats should be tougher than in recent years.
But as always, preseason polls should be taken lightly, as nobody really knows what the teams are going to look like once the season gets underway.
Another top 25 poll recently released is that of the New York Post, which has the Cats checking in at No. 5:
John Calipari isn’t accustomed to starting the season so low in the rankings. The latest batch of highly-rated freshmen — including guard Quade Green and forward P.J. Washington — aren’t quite as acclaimed as past Kentucky classes, but the young crew still will easily run away with another SEC championship, with Queens wing Hamidou Diallo likely to carry the scoring load after sitting out last season.
This poll as Duke, Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas rounding out the top four.
Elsewhere, in CBS’ latest rankings, Kentucky comes in at sixth. Of course, Duke (like in every other preseason poll) is ranked first.
Here is what CBS had to say about Kentucky.
"This is the most inexperienced roster John Calipari's ever had at Kentucky, which speaks to the strength of his No. 2-rated recruiting class. Six five-star players from 2017 are on this roster, led by Hamidou Diallo, who got a head start on the college experience when he enrolled in January. Diallo, Kevin Knox, Quade Green, P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt (out for at least two more months) will join sophomore Wenyen Gabriel and make for the ultimate Cal experiment. He's never had a team so young, so flashy, so wing-y."
Following the Blue Devils are Arizona (who is still being examined in the FBI investigation), Kansas, Michigan State,and Wichita State.
Villanova, USC, Florida, and Miami round out the top 10.
Preseason rankings are not always the most accurate gauge for teams. If they are judging on where Kentucky likely is today, they should probably be lower than sixth. However, by the end of the year, this rating is totally fair and probably pretty accurate on where the Wildcats will hopefully stand.
Other rankings of note in the CBS poll:
#13 Minnesota (Richard Pitino of course)
#23 West Virginia
#27 Texas A&M
#33 Virginia Tech
#76 Mississippi State
#81 South Carolina
#88 Ole Miss