The Kentucky Wildcats started the season as the No. 2 team in the country. They quickly rose to No. 1 after defeating Michigan State. Then after an inexplicable loss to Evansville, you look up and the Cats of three losses and seem on their way out of the top 25. Thank goodness for the Louisville game.
The No. 3 Louisville Cardinals came into Rupp Arena on Saturday with only one loss, and after a back and forth game throughout the No. 19 Wildcats took home the 78-70 victory. Given Louisville’s resume, that is easily Kentucky’s best win of the season.
But what did it do for their reputation around the country? How much did it improve their rankings on various outlets?
The latest AP Top 25 Poll has Kentucky climbing up to the No. 17 spot, so not a major bump up. Still, it’s a heck of a lot better than dropping a few spots had the Wildcats fell to Louisville, so we’ll take it.
As for the top spots, Gonzaga, Duke, Kansas, Oregon and Ohio State made up the top five. Louisville fell to the No. 7 spot, just ahead of the SEC’s highest-ranked team in Auburn.
The Wildcats had fallen completely out of the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1, but quickly jumped back into the fray after Saturday’s victory. Making the biggest jump of anyone on the list, Kentucky went from being unranked to No. 15. This is what CBS’ Gary Parrish had to say about the Wildcats:
“Immanuel Quickley made big free throws in overtime and finished with 18 points in Saturday’s 78-70 win over Louisville,” Parrish wrote. “UK’s resume features two top-5 KenPom wins and two sub-100 KenPom losses.”
The Cats also clawed their way back to the ESPN College Basketball Power Rankings. This list only contains 16 teams, and Kentucky squeezed their way in at No. 15 this week. Perhaps even more impressive is that the Wildcats single-handedly knocked Louisville down from No. 3 to No. 13.
“Kentucky snapped a two-game losing streak by taking down its biggest rival on Saturday, hanging on to beat Louisville in overtime,” ESPN write Jeff Borzello wrote. “The Wildcats answered a lot of questions in that matchup, making 3-pointers, battling in the paint and really working on the defensive end. Will all of that last? We’ve seen flashes of it before from Kentucky, but the Wildcats need to do it on a more consistent basis. Nick Richards went for 13 points and 10 rebounds against Louisville; in Kentucky’s three losses, Richards totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds. Tyrese Maxey played his best game since the opener, while Immanuel Quickley played perhaps the best game of his Kentucky career. The Wildcats enter SEC play with a weird résumé, one that includes losses to Evansville and Utah, along with wins over Louisville and Michigan State.”
Andy Katz’s latest Power 36 has Kentucky going from unranked to No. 15.
Kentucky’s biggest jump unsurprisingly came in the NET Rankings, where they entered the weekend at No. 71. The high-profile victory over Louisville moved the Wildcats up an astounding 27 spots to No. 44.