The Kentucky Wildcats are just under six weeks away from the SEC Tournament.
During this span, they’ll face four (currently) ranked teams while playing six of their 11 remaining games on the road. Their resume is unimpressive so far, but as the freshman gain experience... wins should produce. With that said, here are their remaining games with predictions (ranked via difficulty).
1. At West Virginia Mountaineers
Saturday night will indeed be Kentucky’s toughest test of the season. If they pull out an impressive road win, my predictions for the following games would change (drastically). However, while this is not a knock against these Wildcats, West Virginia is just a tough place for an inexperienced team to win. Calipari is 2-1 against Huggins since 2010, but I believe that matchup falls even after Saturday night.
2. At Florida Gators
As Big Blue Nation saw last Saturday, Florida is going to play Kentucky hard no matter the arena. Even if the Cats go on the road this weekend and win at West Virginia, I’d still struggle to pick Kentucky in this spot. Though I have West Virginia as the most difficult game, this is the most significant in order for the Cats to have some type of momentum heading into the SEC Tournament. I have to go with a Gators sweep here until the Cats can prove to me they can win big games on the road.
3. At Auburn Tigers
Like the Gators, Bruce Pearl’s Auburn team is always going to play up to it’s competition. It makes matters worse for Kentucky that they’ll face this team in Auburn, in a situation where it’s tough for a freshman-built team to win on the road. However, unlike WVU & UF, I’m going with what would likely be an upset here. Kentucky has to blossom at some point this season and since they’ll likely lose to Florida at the end of the season, this is my one big upset Kentucky pulls off.
4. At Texas A&M Aggies
After Kentucky escaped their home win against the Aggies, I was sure they’d split the season series. And I’m going to hold to that prediction. It’s not that I believe this is a bad team. I believe they’re inexperienced and don’t score enough points to win most road games. I could be wrong, but I’m going with another Cats loss.
5. At Arkansas Razorbacks
This game was one of the more intriguing match ups for me. Arkansas is not ranked but they’ve beaten some quality teams. What does that tell me? They’re underrated. They also play well at home, as most college basketball teams do. Therefore, I’m predicting this will be another ugly road trip for the Cats.
6. At Missouri Tigers
Back to working on the win column! After losing who was projected to be the best player in the country (Michael Porter Jr.) it was expected Mizzou would take a step back. While they’re well coached, play exceptional home basketball and have good players, I think Kentucky sees this game as one they have to win. It will be close, but I’ve got the Cats winning this one.
Can we make it two in a row? It won’t fall in this order on the schedule, but yes I believe the Cats win this game too. They’ll want nothing but revenge after their embarrassing effort in Knoxville. And I believe this young team comes out fighting, just as they did this past Tuesday.
Collin Sexton has been a joy to watch this season and I’m thrilled he’ll be at Rupp Arena. However, Calipari knows Kentucky’s best chances at winning games down the stretch are at home. This is a game that will be tough for the Cats. However, I think the combo of Quade Green’s offense and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s defense will overpower Sexton & Avery Johnson’s Bama team.
9. Missouri Tigers
Season sweep it is. This game falls after the Arkansas match up, where I believe the Cats take an “L” on the road. Therefore, they’ll want to win this game to get back on track before Ole Miss and Florida. It’s just my guess, but this game shouldn’t even be close.
10. Ole Miss Rebels
What was I just saying about Mizzou? This game falls right in between that match up and Florida. Calipari knows momentum is key with a young team and this is the perfect game to do so. The Cats will want to give it their all in front of their home crowd for the final time this season, with “their all” being more than enough for a win.
Poor Vanderbilt... they’ve been rather a disappointment this season and only have a 17% chance (via ESPN’s BPI) to win this game. They’re in a bad spot, too, as they’re next up after Kentucky likely loses at WVU Saturday. Calipari won’t waste any time getting his team back on the winning track, starting with the Commodores.
I’ve got Kentucky going 7-4 with one road upset to finish the season. That would give them a final record of 22-9. It’s certainly not what most expected out of this Cats team before the season, but all that matters is what they do in March.
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