After a dissapointing upset to 15 seed, St. Peters, in last years NCAA Tournament, Kentucky will look to avenge their loss and bring home No. 9 for not only the program, but all of Big Blue Nation.
Since winning thier first 38 games in the 2014-15, Kentucky has yet to return to the Final Four and has only made it to the Elite Eight twice in that span.This lack of success hasn't gone without notice, with some fans even calling for head coach, John Calipari, to be fired. Others have a much more positive look at Cal and believe he is the best, if not the only, man for such a high pressure job.
The weight that this season holds on the future of the Kentucky basketball program is one that all of us have considered and will be interested to see play out. Cal's most success has come with getting players to the next level with 34 first round picks in his now 13 year tenure, and recruiting some of the best high school players in the nation, but that doesn't necessarily get a lot of Kentucky fans out of their seat. They want to see a winning program, and not just in the regular season, but in March. If the Wildcats fail to make the Final Four this year it will have been eight years since their last apperance, which could get more people asking the question is Cal really the best man for the job.
This could be one of Kentucky's best chances to potentially win their ninth national championship and return to their former glory. They return loads of talent, bringing in three highly touted freshmen, aswell as a high scoring transfer, and some new members of the coaching staff. The Wildcats have arguably the best and deepest front court in the nation, with veterans Lance Ware, Oscar Tshiebwe, and Jacob Toppin manning the paint. Cason Wallace, CJ Frederick, and Antonio Reeves will look to stretch the floor and give Kentucky an all around very dangerous offense. This season could be very exciting, but it will be all about how the team finishes in March.
Winning a national championship seems to be one of the only ways Calipari can win back a large chunck of his fan base who have grown to hate him. Failing to make it to the last weekend of March Madness, for what would be the eighth year in a row would get even more people tired of Cal's operations. Though he likely won't be fired no matter how this season goes, the ice Cal is skating on will just proceed to get thinner.
This year's team looks like one of the much better one's that we've seen in since Calipari took over, and the 2023 class, who just landed its fourth five-star prospect, looks to be the best in the country and could make a run an No. 9 or possibly even No. 10. Only time will tell and Big Blue NAtion can only hope that the regular season success can translate into March.
Kentucky opens the season vs. Howard on November 7th at 6:30 EST on the SEC Network.