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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: College Basketball Rising Edition

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Pre-season polls mean college basketball is about to begin. There are lots of teams with a chance to compete for the big prize, and we have a first-ever #1 in this pre-season AP poll.

Auburn v Kentucky Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.

Since we had no game on Saturday, we don’t have that to talk about. So let’s see, what do we have … hmm …. Oh, I know! Basketball!

Yes, Big Blue Nation, it is very near that time again, and even in the middle of a plague, Kentucky basketball is eternal. Or at least, looks like it will play regardless.

Most of us know by now that the pre-season AP poll is now out, and first off, I think we owe a nod of congratulations to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who sit atop the pre-season top 25 for the very first time in history. Welcome to an elite club, Zags fans. We can tell you by experience, though, that it’s a very lonely place even before the euphoria wears off.

Most of the top ten are experienced teams with a lot of returning pieces. Even the Duke Blue Devils return Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore after losing their top three scorers to the NBA. Kentucky checks in with a bunch of freshmen, a sophomore, and some transfer talent to take the last spot in the AP top ten, probably about where the Wildcats belong.

CBS’s Top 25 and 1 is less kind to Kentucky, placing the Wildcats at #13 behind — and this always irks me regardless of the facts at hand — Tennessee.

A check of Ken Pomeroy’s pre-season ratings, which I assume is what he has up right now, shows the Zags at #2 behind Baylor (certainly a reasonable dissent from AP) and Kentucky checking in at #11 — Again, a variance I find hard to disagree with. Texas Tech and West Virginia are more elevated than among others in the stats guru rankings, both checking well inside the top ten.

Pre-seasons polls are always the subject of much debate, but this season, perhaps less so than most. A lot of that is the uncertainty surrounding the state of the pandemic, which could render teams subject to a series of upsets without warning. This introduces a random element that we have never seen in college basketball, and never in my memory has a season been so subject to what boils down to random chance — a team that avoids infections at the right time is likely a team that can improve their position. Get unlucky and have several top players out at a critical stretch, and the losses could mount rapidly. It’s a fascinating dynamic we have seen a little bit in college football, but college basketball is much more susceptible due to the smaller size of the rosters. We should expect games to be rescheduled or even canceled altogether.

For Kentucky, I don’t think any of us know what to expect. UK fans are used to having to completely rebuild the team every year from mostly freshmen and sophomores, so there are no excuses to be had here. I expect this season’s team to look a lot like last season — sketchy early and better later, very much like most of Coach Cal’s teams have been.

Tweet of the Morning

Chad Scott is a former UK assistant coach who is now co-OC and running backs coach at West Virginia. He always has great quotes in the morning, and this is one of my most favorite, because despite resorting to absolutes, it is indisputably correct in spirit.

If I were a coach, I would repeat this quote before every practice without exception, like some kind of talisman against evil — and a poor practice is about as evil as it gets.

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