Kentucky coach John Calipari instructs his players Saturday during a loss to Texas A&M at Rupp Arena/ It was the worst of the Wildcats’ five defeats on the season.
Throughout the preseason, John Calipari told anyone who would listen that those who ranked his Kentucky team in the top five of a preseason poll needed to be drug tested.
No one is arguing with him now. And not only is no one confusing the defending national champion with a national championship contender, but there’s no guarantee Kentucky will even reach the 68-team NCAA tournament.
That scenario became a legitimate possibility after Saturday’s home loss to Texas A&M. There’s typically a sky-is-falling mentality in Lexington after every Kentucky loss, but this season there are several reasons for fans to look up and cover their heads: The middling Wildcats (10-5, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) find themselves in a precarious position and it’s only mid-January.
But before Big Blue Nation abandons hope altogether — it may be too late for some — and begins the countdown to when prized twin prospects Andrew and Aaron Harrison arrive on campus next fall, let’s take a look at Kentucky’s already battered body of work.
To be clear, Kentucky’s body of work is bland, not awful.
And that’s the best thing about the Wildcats’ NCAA tournament résumé at the moment: Unlike some teams — looking at you Florida State — they have not done anything thus far that will make the NCAA tournament selection committee cringe.
Their worst loss is at Rupp against a Texas A&M team fighting to get in NCAA tournament consideration. The bigger issue is the location of the loss rather than the mediocre opponent. And there is no shame in the other Kentucky setbacks to Duke, Notre Dame, Baylor and Louisville, though losses are beginning to mount.
But before you get too optimistic, consider this: The Wildcats have played the nation’s 44th-toughest schedule thus far, but they have not beaten anyone of consequence. No one.
Kentucky’s best win of course is the season-opening three-point triumph against a young Maryland team that figured to improve as the season progressed. UK fans better hope that win is viewed as a quality victory when the selection committee convenes in March.
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