The great American author Mark Twain once uttered this line:
“Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”
This oft-quoted line could be applied very easily to the Kentucky men’s basketball team.
For what seems like the entire season since the Cats 90-61 throttling of Louisville in late 2017, it seems like UK has been teetering on the brink of destruction. But every time it seemed the Grim Reaper stood at the Wildcat locker room door, Big Blue has found a way to stay the executioner one more game.
And once again, it seems like the buzzards are circling the Cats in College Station as Kentucky (17-7 6-5 SEC) prepare to face a suddenly hot Texas A&M squad Saturday. The Aggies (16-8 5-6 SEC) have played excellent basketball as of late and are 11-2 at home.
The Cats haven’t been as fortunate, losing 61-59 to Tennessee at Rupp Arena Tuesday night and comes into this game 5-5 in their last 10 games, seemingly faltering at the worst possible time of the year.
But not so fast all you who are ready to start throwing dirt on the proverbial Wildcat grave. History is on the side of the young Wildcats...sort of.
In four different instances during the John Calipari era, the Cats have had similar seasons on the brink of collapse only to rebound and finish the year with a bang during March Madness. Consider:
*2016-17- Cats start 18-5, finish 14-1, and make NCAA Elite 8;
*2015-16- Cats start 16-6, finish 11-3, and make NCAA 2nd Round.
*2013-14- Cats start 21-8, finish 8-3, and make NCAA title game.
*2010-11- Cats start 16-6, finish 13-3, and make NCAA Final 4.
If one of those scenarios (especially three of them) is the Wildcats’ fate this year, the year will have been a success, right?
And for those college basketball soothsayers who are ready to relegate the Cats into the NIT, ESPN doesn’t exactly hold that as a possibility. According to the latest bracketology, Kentucky still projects as a 5 seed in the East region, facing 12 seed Loyola-Chicago.
It is also interesting to note that the Cats are paired with 4 seed West Virginia in that region. Remember, Kentucky beat the Mountaineers in Morgantown 83-76 last month.
Granted, UK has a killer schedule to end the regular season. The Cats face probable NCAA tournament teams (according to ESPN) Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, and Florida before starting the SEC tournament in St. Louis.
The thinking here is if the Cats can possibly split or beat three of those teams and Ole Miss at home, the Cats will be on solid footing going into the postseason. And most definitely no team will want to face the Cats in a win or go home situation that is March Madness.
So, in closing, it’s OK to feel anxious right now, but remember, once the postseason starts all records go to 0-0 and everyone starts fresh. In those terms, don’t bet against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Do you think the Cats will get their season turned around, or is their recent skid a sign of what’s to come?