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Kentucky rises in new top 25 rankings, NET & bracketology

Kentucky has positioned itself for a high seed in March.

Keldon Johnson Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats are coming on strong, and that’s led to jumps in all of the major polls and rankings.

Following a road win over a top-15 Auburn team, Kentucky now looks like a legitimate top-10 team that’s a real threat to make a deep run in March. The Wildcats now have one of the most impressive resumes in college hoops, which includes a neutral court win over a top-15 UNC team, a road domination of a top-25 Louisville team, and now, a road win over the a top-15 Tigers squad.

The latest AP Poll has Kentucky checking in at the No. 8 spot. The Tennessee Volunteers are the new No. 1 team following their narrow home win over Alabama. Auburn fell to No. 16.

Kentucky will host the No. 22 Mississippi State Bulldogs on Tuesday, then host the No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday. That means Kentucky will have played three-straight top-25 foes by the end of this week.

The Coaches Poll has Kentucky up to No. 9. Kansas checked in at No. 10, while Mississippi State is at No. 22. Tennessee is also No. 1 in this poll, while Auburn checked in at No. 15.

Coaches Top 25 Poll

  1. Tennessee Volunteers
  2. Duke Blue Devils
  3. Virginia Cavaliers
  4. Gonzaga Bulldogs
  5. Michigan State Spartans
  6. Michigan Wolverines
  7. Nevada Wolf Pack
  8. Virginia Tech Hokies
  9. Kentucky Wildcats
  10. Kansas Jayhawks
  11. Marquette Golden Eagles
  12. North Carolina Tar Heels
  13. Texas Tech Red Raiders
  14. Buffalo Bulls
  15. Auburn Tigers
  16. Maryland Terrapins
  17. Houston Cougars
  18. Villanova Wildcats
  19. NC State Wolfpack
  20. Ole Miss Rebels
  21. Iowa Hawkeyes
  22. Mississippi State Bulldogs
  23. Florida State Seminoles
  24. Louisville Cardinals
  25. Iowa State Cyclones

AP Top 25 Poll

  1. Tennessee Volunteers
  2. Duke Blue Devils
  3. Virginia Cavaliers
  4. Gonzaga Bulldogs
  5. Michigan Wolverines
  6. Michigan State Spartans
  7. Nevada Wolf Pack
  8. Kentucky Wildcats
  9. Kansas Jayhawks
  10. Virginia Tech Hokies
  11. North Carolina Tar Heels
  12. Marquette Golden Eagles
  13. Maryland Terrapins
  14. Buffalo Bulls
  15. Texas Tech Red Raiders
  16. Auburn Tigers
  17. Houston Cougars
  18. Villanova Wildcats
  19. Iowa Hawkeyes
  20. Ole Miss Rebels
  21. NC State Wolfpack
  22. Mississippi State Bulldogs
  23. Louisville Cardinals
  24. Iowa State Cyclones
  25. LSU Tigers

Elsewhere, Jerry Palm now has Kentucky as a 2 seed in CBS Sports’ latest bracketology. It ends up being in the East Region in Washington, D.C., as Kentucky gets edged out by Kansas for the 2 seed in the South Region in Louisville. Perhaps that adds a little more incentive to beat the Jayhawks this week.

Still, this projection has the 1 seed being Michigan, whereas the South Region No. 1 is Tennessee. I think a lot of Kentucky fans would rather play in the East vs. Michigan, though it’s hard to pass on playing in Louisville, no matter how challenging the path may be.

Here is the full East Region in this projection:

  1. Michigan Wolverines
  2. Kentucky Wildcats
  3. Virginia Tech Hokies
  4. Buffalo Bulls
  5. Louisville Cardinals
  6. Oklahoma Sooners
  7. Purdue Boilermakers
  8. Kansas State Wildcats
  9. Syracuse Orange
  10. TCU Horned Frogs
  11. Washington Huskies
  12. Murray State Racers
  13. Hofstra Pride
  14. Marshall Thundering Herd
  15. Bucknell Bison
  16. Weber State Wildcats’s Power 36 ranking has Kentucky checking in at No. 8.

Sports Illustrated has Kentucky checking in at No. 9 while also tabbing the Wildcats as a team on the rise:

Cruising past Georgia on Tuesday was a welcome sign, but the Wildcats’ road win over Auburn on Saturday is what stands out as one of the week’s best victories. Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson each poured in 20 points in Kentucky’s 82–80 win, leading the way for a 54% shooting performance from the field. The Wildcats’ offense is beginning to hit its stride as we approach February, improving over the year as most John Calipari squads do. Matchups against Mississippi State and Kansas are on the slate this week, quality tests for a roster that has yet to reach its potential. Rupp Arena will be rocking on Saturday night as Kentucky hosts the Jayhawks, providing an opportunity for the Wildcats’ best win of the year.

The latest NBC Sports Top 25 has Kentucky rising up to the No. 7 spot.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports has Kentucky at No. 7, while Seth Davis of The Athletic also has the Cats at

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish has Kentucky checking in at No. 14.

ESPN’s latest power ranking (only 16 teams) now has the Cats at No. 9:

Kentucky just might be hitting its stride as conference play heats up. The Wildcats went into Auburn on Saturday and knocked off the Tigers in a really complete offensive performance. Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson both had 20 points, while Ashton Hagans scored just six -- but dished out six assists and grabbed seven rebounds. It was their most efficient offensive outing since mid-December vs. Utah.

The Wildcats did climb up to the No. 8 spot in the latest NCAA NET rankings. That means if the NCAA Tournament began today, Kentucky would be in strong position for a No. 2 seed.