As the long summer without Kentucky Wildcats athletics continues to wind down and we get closer to the basketball season, ESPN’s BPI preseason rankings are out, and Kentucky isn’t looked at in such a high regard.
On November 6th, Kentucky will officially begin the regular season when the Cats take on the Blue Devils in the Champions Classic. However, neither team will be heavily ranked under the BPI rankings.
This ranking features Kansas, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Marquette and West Virginia in the top 5.
In case you don’t know how the BPI system works for ranking the teams, here is how it is done.
BPI ranks the teams based on four factors when analyzing the rosters
1. Quantity of experience on the roster
2. Quality of the experience on the roster
3. Recruiting rankings for the incoming freshmen, and it puts emphasis on the five-star players
4. Coaches’ past performance on offense and defense
The quantity and quality of the experience includes the transfer players that a school may add to their roster in the offseason, so it doesn’t matter where the player gained their experience.
Based on the criteria for the rankings, you would still expect Kentucky to be highly ranked heading into the beginning of the season. However, the Cats came in barely in the top 25, they were 22nd while their opponent on November 6th Duke came in at number nine.
Despite John Calipari returning Quade Green, PJ Washington, and Nick Richards as well as getting graduate transfer Reid Travis from Stanford (who is a double-double machine) and bringing in a top 2 recruiting class the Cats are still ranked that low in BPI.
So why is Kentucky ranked so low?
In a separate article on ESPN, Jeff Borzello explains why the Cats are in the 20s.
“Kentucky is widely considered to be the primary competition to Kansas for preseason No. 1 honors, yet the Wildcats are barely in the top 25 of the BPI. In general, the BPI is lower on Kentucky -- and Duke -- than consensus qualitative rankings, said Borzello.
“The reason behind both Duke and Kentucky’s lower-than-expected rankings is the fact the model heavily weighs returning production, as history shows returning starters do better than five-star freshmen in general…Kentucky saw seven players depart from last season”.
The fact of the matter is the production from the returning players didn’t bode well for Kentucky, and besides PJ and Reid, neither Quade or Nick put up a ton of numbers on a consistent basis.
And the BPI allegedly doesn’t put as much emphasis on incoming freshmen as it does returning players based on what Borzello stated in his article.
Yet, Duke without its top six players of last season is checking in at No. 9, while Kentucky at least has solid returners in PJ and Reid.
Regardless of what the BPI says, Kentucky will be a serious contender to start the season ranked number 1 and should be in the top 3. Also, the Cats will without a doubt be a favorite to bring home the National Championship come March.
Here’s a look at the entire top 25: