With the college basketball season about to begin in another month and the preseason AP and Coaches Top 25 Polls just coming out with Kentucky ranked No. 16, many different media outlets are predicting where the Kentucky Wildcats will be ranked in the SEC at the end of the season.
Recently, CBS Sports predicted how the SEC would do this season with players to watch, how teams will finish, the most overrated and underrated teams, and other predictions. With all of these predictions, the panel did not predict Kentucky to win the league, with Tennessee and Texas A&M finishing ahead of the Cats.
The last time Kentucky won the SEC regular-season championship was during the 2019-2020 season when they went 15-3 in conference play and 25-6 overall. Obviously, there was no SEC or NCAA Tournament that year due to COVID-19, but it has been a few years since Kentucky was on top of the pecking order in the SEC.
The last time Kentucky won the SEC Championship was back in 2018 with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox. Since then, the Cats have struggled to win games in both the SEC and NCAA Tournament, combining to only win three SEC Tournament games since the 2018-19 season and only one NCAA Tournament game since the 2020-21 season.
With big expectations this upcoming year, Kentucky is hoping to have some great postseason stress, but CBS knows it will be a stressful year for head coach John Calipari to get back to the Final Four.
“No SEC coach is dealing with more pressure entering this season than John Calipari, who guided Kentucky to four Final Fours in his first six seasons but has now failed to get back there in eight consecutive years,” Gary Parrish wrote. “Twenty-two different schools have made the Final Four since the last time Kentucky made the Final Four — among them fellow blue bloods Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, and UCLA, but also traditional mid-majors Florida Atlantic and Loyola Chicago.”
Other CBS analysts were asked to give a prediction, with only one choosing Kentucky to win the SEC, and that was Kyle Boone, the favorites to win this year from others were either Tennessee or Texas A&M.
In a separate CBS article, Boone actually picked Kentucky as one of the most underrated teams in the preseason polls.
“Yes, losing to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s in the first round of the NCAA Tournament two years ago was a disappointment impossible to overstate for a proud program like Kentucky, and yes, 22 wins and failing to make the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament last season is underperforming, but John Calipari with his back to the wall has assembled one of the most electric rosters of his tenure in Lexington led by the potential No. 1 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft in Justin Edwards,” Boone wrote. “I think we may be factoring recent failures too much into projecting this UK team. On paper, this is a clear top-10 roster from a talent perspective, and I’m not ready to write Calipari off. ... yet.”
Although it has been a rough few years for Calipari, this is the season to get the team back on track by bringing in many highly touted freshmen to this year’s roster.