It feels like just yesterday that the Kentucky Wildcats faced off against the Kansas State Wildcats in Greensboro in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Now nine months removed from that game, it is finally time to tip off another season of Kentucky Basketball.
With Big Blue Madness only a week away and exhibition games only a few weeks away, it is finally time to start diving into some rankings.
Obviously, the Cats are a projected top-25 squad when the official polls come out, but let’s look at a few from some other names around the College Basketball World.
Kevin Flaherty of 247 Sports is the first one we want to take a look at. He ranked his preseason top-25, which featured Kentucky coming in at No. 24 on his list.
“John Calipari brings in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, but this wasn’t a classic class in terms of talent,” writes Flaherty. “Still, this will be a really talented team, and Justin Edwards is a five-star freshman who does all the little things to help his team win. There’s a chance that Antonio Reeves steps into total stardom and Kentucky’s freshmen all find their niches, but this is provably too many new pieces for the Wildcats to be a true national title contender.”
This is the popular take among many in the national media, as many believe all the new players won't be able to put it all together to make a deep tourney run. Could that end up being true? Maybe it will. But if the GLOBAL JAM Tour this summer showed us anything it is that this team has the talent to compete with and beat anyone in the country.
Alongside these preseason rankings, the analytic rankings are also starting to roll out.
One of the first to come out this season is Erik Haslam’s, Haslametrics.
According to his data, Kentucky comes into the season at No. 29 overall with the 24th best offensive efficiency and 39th-best defensive efficiency ratings over the last three seasons.
His data also predicts 10 losses for UK in the regular season, with the preseason rankings in place.
Obviously, these numbers are going to change as we get a few games into the season, but this shows the efficiency numbers have to get better on both sides of the ball if John Calipari and his team do want to compete for a National Championship this season.
All that aside, college basketball is back, BBN. Let’s do this.