This season has been a bit of a roller coaster so far for the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team and conference play hasn’t even begun.
The players, the coaches, and the fan base got a little ahead of themselves after an incredible showing in the Bahamas. Some had already pegged them as the 2019 National Champions.
However, our dreams were put to a halt as these young Cats faltered on the big stage in the first game of the season. They were quickly knocked off their pedestal and it took them awhile to regroup.
And just when we thought they had put it all together, they fell again to the Seton Hall Pirates. But this time, their regroup looks like it’s ready for sustainable success. After demolishing the Utah Utes and manhandling the North Carolina Tar Heels, it finally looks like Bahamas Kentucky is back. And they’re back just in time for SEC play to begin.
However, not everyone is sold just yet. The staff over at CBS Sports got together and predicted each conference champion. Of the five experts, not a single one picked Kentucky.
This is what Gary Parrish had to say about the upcoming SEC race.
Mississippi State coach Ben Howland was questioned/criticized in the preseason when he said Tennessee, not Kentucky, was the team to beat in the SEC. But it looks like he was right. The Vols are 10-1 and ranked No. 1 in the Top 25 And 1. They’re not unbeatable, but they will not beat themselves. Just a rock-solid, experienced and strong basketball team. They’re good enough to take Rick Barnes to his second Final Four.
And as of right now, he’s right. Tennessee has looked like a National Title contender since day one. Kentucky looked great in the Bahamas and they’ve played well the last couple games, but it’s fair to give the Vols the edge...right now.
The only thing I question is how high Tennessee’s ceiling goes. We know the Cats have barely scratched the surface, but have the Vols peaked already in December? We’ll just have to wait and see.
If there’s one thing I can always count on, it’s that Coach Cal will have these guys ready to go come March. Don’t forget that Tennessee beat Kentucky twice in the regular season last year before falling to the Cats in the SEC Championship and making a quick exit out of the NCAA Tournament.
If I were predicting the SEC champion right now, I’d probably go with Tennessee, too. But we’ll see if that’s the case in a few short months.
You can see the rest of CBS’s picks here.