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Where Kentucky stands in new top 25 rankings, NET & power rankings

And a look at what the experts are saying about the Cats heading into March Madness.


The NCAA Tournament field of 68 is complete as March Madness is now in full effect.

For the Kentucky Wildcats, a solid 27-6 season coming into the Big Dance has them in position to make their fifth Final Four under John Calipari.

Sure, Kentucky failed to get a 1 seed or play in Louisville, but they still got about as good of a draw as one can ask for, especially when you realize they were a mere Michigan State loss away from ending up in D.C. with the Duke Blue Devils.

The Wildcats ended up finishing as the No. 7 overall team in the Selection Committee’s seed rankings. As you can imagine, that’s right around where they finished in the new top 25 polls and power rankings.

The new Coaches Poll has Kentucky checking in at No. 7, down three spots from last week. Ahead of Kentucky are Michigan State, Tennessee, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Virginia, and new No. 1 team Duke.

The final pre-NCAA Tournament NET rankings have Kentucky checking in at No. 6. The sad thing is Kentucky is actually ahead of North Carolina and Michigan State, two teams ahead of the Wildcats in the committee’s rankings.

KenPom now has Kentucky ranked No. 7 overall, No. 13 in offensive efficiency and No. 12 in defensive efficiency.

TeamRankings has Kentucky down at No. 8.

Bleacher Report actually thinks Kentucky is still the fifth-best team in college basketball, and they even gave a breakdown of the Wildcats going into postseason play:

How They Got Here: As far as title contenders go, Kentucky’s season couldn’t have started much worse, losing by 34 to Duke in the Champions Classic. The Wildcats proceeded to lose to Seton Hall in early December and didn’t have a single quality win through 10 games. The rest of the campaign was a much different story, though, as Kentucky racked up 10 Quadrant 1 victories in its final 21 regular-season games.

Reason to Believe: This is nothing new if you’ve been following Kentucky for the past decade, but its interior play is excellent. Led by PJ Washington, the Wildcats block a lot of shots and win the battle on the glass in almost every game. Kentucky also lives at the free-throw line and makes 74 percent of its freebies.

Reason to Worry: Kentucky’s three-point defense isn’t as bad now as it was in November and December, but the Cats do still have lapses in which the opposing team gets a lot of wide-open looks at triples. Also, Kentucky’s three-point offense is a concern. This team doesn’t often rely on the deep ball, but it shot worse than 28 percent in all five regular-season losses.

March Madness Ceiling: There’s no ceiling here. Kentucky knocked off more than enough top-tier opponents to be considered one of the favorites. If Reid Travis is fully healthy (he looked all right in the SEC tournament), the Wildcats definitely have the talent and depth to beat anyone. Even if he’s not fully back, they should at least make it to the Elite Eight before getting challenged.

CBS Sports ranks Kentucky No. 6 overall, just barely trailing No. 5 Tennessee:

For me, the difference between Kentucky and Tennessee is minimal. The Wildcats are seeded high and have their vital grad transfer, Reid Travis, back in the mix. PJ Washington, a sophomore power forward, is the team’s most valuable player. Keep an eye out for freshman Tyler Herro, who is liable to hit big shots -- and certainly won’t be afraid to take them.

Yahoo Sports has Kentucky ranked No. 5 but in the second tier of title contenders. They also praised John Calipari for how he turned Kentucky’s season around after they started 10-3 but went 17-3 the rest of the way:

Can we, once and for all, bottle up the wrongheaded take that John Calipari is a great recruiter but mediocre basketball coach and launch that take into the sun?

There was a time not too long ago when this Kentucky team looked set to whiff on the lottery, and produce only one first-round NBA draft pick, for the first time under Coach Cal. And at that same time, the Wildcats did not look like true contenders.

But the young core – PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans – has developed as individuals and a unit. Kentucky is peaking at the right time. There’s no Anthony Davis- or Karl-Anthony Towns-level talent who would equate this year’s team to Calipari’s best. But the 2011 Final Four squad might be a decent comparison.

Finally, here’s a look at the top 25 teams from the NCAA’s seed rankings:

1. Duke Blue Devils

2. Virginia Cavaliers

3. North Carolina Tar Heels

4. Gonzaga Bulldogs

5. Tennessee Volunteers

6. Michigan State Spartans

7. Kentucky Wildcats

8. Michigan Wolverines

9. Houston Cougars

10. Texas Tech Red Raiders

11. LSU Tigers

12. Purdue Boilermakers

13. Kansas Jayhawks

14. Florida State Seminoles

15. Kansas State Wildcats

16. Virginia Tech Hokies

17. Marquette Golden Eagles

18. Auburn Tigers

19. Wisconsin Badgers

20. Mississippi State Bulldogs

21. Villanova Wildcats

22. Maryland Terrapins

23. Buffalo Bulls

24. Iowa State Cyclones

25. Louisville Cardinals

Kentucky wound up scoring eight wins over these teams. That alone speaks to how dangerous this Kentucky team is going into the Big Dance.