The Kentucky Wildcats are entering the new year with a 9-3 record.
While some programs would look at that an rejoice, the Wildcats know that they could easily have just one loss and still be the nation’s top team. However, fans should be encouraged after what we’ve seen so far this season.
The Wildcats lost two back-to-back games in Vegas. Their spirits should’ve been crushed. But, they weren’t. This team bounced back with a strong overtime victory at home against in-state rival Louisville.
Now, they’ll enter January which means the start of conference play.
January 4 — Missouri — W
With a game against Missouri to kick off the year, the Cats should be able to get their tenth victory with ease. Missouri is 8-4, riding a four-game win streak after a three-game losing streak.
A home game for the Wildcats, expect the team to come out strong, losing just one game all season at Rupp.
January 7 — Georgia — W
The Wildcats will travel to Athens, Georgia and take on Anthony Edwards and the Bulldogs.
The 6-foot-5 freshman is averaging just under 19 points per game. With Keion Brooks’ length and the team’s two lengthy front court players, expect another easy victory. These first two games should be shoe-ins for Kentucky.
Georgia may be the fourth-best team in the SEC so expect them to come out and put up a challenge. However, being one-dimensional isn’t ideal against Calipari who will likely find a way to limit Edwards.
January 11 — Alabama — W
Giving up at least 65 points in all but one game this season, the Crimson Tide should get rolled over by Cal’s Wildcats. Their poor defense will showcase every strength of this Wildcats team.
They’re 7-5 on the season and will likely have another loss on their resume as they take on Florida in the near future. This should be another easy game for Kentucky.
January 15 — South Carolina — W
Surprisingly, South Carolina is just 5-3 at home yet 3-0 on the road so maybe this being away will bode well for Kentucky. Either way, the Wildcats should handle business against the Gamecocks.
Don’t sleep on South Carolina though. Coming off a victory over Virginia, this team can play. This could be a game Kentucky fails to get up for and is shocked at just how much potential this Carolina team has.
January 18 — Arkansas — W
Arkansas hasn’t played anyone of note, but they are 11-1. That sole loss was to Western Kentucky and without a quality victory, they’ve been continually left outside of the top 25.
Their record is deceiving yet this game, like most in the SEC, may not be as easy as it seems. This will be one of the few tests for Arkansas this season. They needed to have a more challenging non-conference schedule to really be of note.
January 21 — Georgia — W
Another matchup with Georgia, this time at home, Calipari should find similar success to the two team’s matchup earlier in the month. Expect a solid victory for the Wildcats behind a raucous Rupp crowd.
January 25 — Texas Tech — L
This will be their toughest test in the first calendar month.
Currently ranked No. 22, Tech has returned a few of their players that made that national championship run last season. But, they’re without Jarrett Culver, whose absence has crippled the team’s offense.
On the road, expect a tough matchup for Kentucky. This could be their only loss in January if they can’t find a way to breakdown the solid Tech defense. Tech beat Louisville by 13 earlier this season and we’ve seen Kentucky’s inability to consistently shoot from deep.
Sadly, this may be the one they lose.
January 29 — Vanderbilt — W
Having lost their only road performance, the Commodores come to Rupp and close out the month against the Ashton Hagans-led Wildcats. The Commodores have not looked good this season and have no quality victories.
Let’s not take any game for granted, but this should be an easy victory for Cal’s Wildcats.
Entering February with four losses, the Wildcats should be able to sneak back into the top 15.