The Kentucky Wildcats have now won three straight games over top-25 opponents. That’s the first time they’ve accomplished this feat since the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and the first they’ve done it in the regular season since January 2004.
The Cats are now 16-3 and have five wins over teams currently ranked in the top-25. Kentucky is projected as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament by most experts, but should they be higher?
Kentucky has arguably the most impressive resume in college basketball in terms of their five best wins.
Based on where teams are ranked today, Kentucky has wins over No. 9 Kansas, No. 11 North Carolina, No. 16 Auburn, No. 22 Mississippi State, and No. 23 Louisville. And the wins over Auburn and Louisville were on the road, while the win over North Carolina was at a neutral site.
It’s not like Kentucky is just dominating ranked opponents in the friendly confines of Rupp Arena. They’re taking care of business, no matter where they play.
Of course, there was the Duke loss at the beginning of the year, but that seems like ages ago. And the other two losses to Alabama and Seton Hall were flukes that Kentucky should have won. That means nothing in terms of their resume, but regardless the NCAA Selection Committee will take a look at it all.
Most teams struggle to put together that type of resume over the course of an entire season, much less before the end of January.
So, let’s take a look at the resumes of the seven teams ranked ahead of Kentucky.
First is Nevada. The No. 7 ranked Nevada Wolf Pack sit at 19-1, with no wins over teams currently ranked in the top 25. Their best win was against then-ranked No. 20 Arizona State, but the Sun Devils have quickly fallen off the map. The only other Power 5 win Nevada has is over Utah on the road, who UK beat by nearly 30 points.
Not to mention, the Wolf Pack’s lone loss sticks out like a sore thumb. They fell 85-58 at New Mexico, who is currently 9-11 overall. With no good wins and a miserable loss, Kentucky’s resume looks a heck of a lot better, despite having two more losses.
Next up is Michigan State. The No. 6 ranked Michigan State Spartans are 18-3 following their loss at Purdue on Sunday. Sparty has three wins over teams currently in the top 25, but two have come against Iowa. The other was against Maryland.
Their other two losses came against Kansas at a neutral site and at Louisville, two teams Kentucky was able to defeat. MSU has no bad losses, but their top-five wins consists of Iowa (2x), Maryland, Purdue, and Florida or Ohio State. That’s not nearly as impressive as Kentucky.
It does need to be noted that two of their losses came with injuries, as Matt Mcquaid missed the Louisville game, while Joshua Langford was out at Purdue. It will be interesting to see if the selection committee factors those in at all.
The No. 5 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs are next. The Zags are 19-2 with one win over ranked teams. The one win over Duke at a neutral site was huge for Gonzaga, but they don’t have much else to showcase.
The Zags have no bad losses, as their two came at North Carolina and on a neutral court against Tennessee. But with St. Mary’s being down this year, they don’t have any real chances to improve their resume.
The Michigan Wolverines sit at No. 4 with a 19-1 record. Michigan only has two wins over ranked teams: No. 11 North Carolina and at No. 18 Villanova. Both wins came in dominant fashion, however, which is good for the resume.
The Wolverines’ lone loss came at Wisconsin, which is a tough place to play. They also beat Purdue, but their top-five wins still don’t match up to Kentucky’s.
Next is Virginia. The Virginia Cavaliers are ranked No. 3 and have a 18-1 record. The Cavs have two wins over teams in the top 25, which are at No. 13 Maryland and No. 10 Virginia Tech. They also beat Florida State and Wisconsin, but that’s about it.
Their only blemish is at No. 2 Duke, which obviously isn’t a bad loss to have. But the lack of wins over ranked teams is what’s missing from their resume. Luckily, UVA will have plenty of chances to improve their resume, just like Kentucky.
The Duke Blue Devils probably have the second-best resume on this list. Duke is 17-2 and ranked No. 2 in the country. The Blue Devils have four wins over teams currently ranked in the top 25. Of course, they demolished Kentucky, but they also beat No. 14 Texas Tech and No. 16 Auburn at neutral sites and Virginia at home.
Their loss to Gonzaga is certainly not a bad one, even though the Zags were missing one of their best players, but the loss at home against Syracuse is pretty bad. Despite the terrible loss, Duke’s top-five wins of Kentucky, Texas Tech, Auburn, Virginia, and Florida state is impressive.
Duke doesn’t have more top-25 wins than Kentucky, but they do have wins over teams higher in the rankings. They are the closest to Kentucky in terms of resume, and they, too, have plenty of chances to make it look even better.
Lastly, the Tennessee Volunteers are ranked No. 1 in America. Tennessee is 18-1, with their lone loss coming in overtime at a neutral site to Kansas. But they only have two top-25 wins. They beat Louisville and Gonzaga at neutral sites, but nothing else jumps off the page.
The record is good and hosts no bad losses, but the Vols lack quality wins. Despite opening up league play by dominating their opponents, they’ve barely survived their last two against Alabama and at Vanderbilt. However, they also still have a lot of chances to improve their resume, including two games against Kentucky.
These are the teams currently ranked ahead of Kentucky in terms of ranking and projected NCAA Tournament seeding. And Kentucky has arguably the best resume of them all, or at least the five best wins.