For the first time since Dwayne Wade triple-doubled our ass out of the 2003 NCAA Tournament, Kentucky is the #1 ranked team in all of college basketball. The Cats got every single first-place vote in both polls, thanks in large part to previous #1–and previously undefeated– Texas dropping two games last week, leaving Kentucky as the only squad in Division I with an unblemished record. The Longhorns fell to sixth, while Kansas, Villanova, Syracuse, and Michigan state, in that order, round out the top five in both polls.
The guys over at A Sea of Blue and Yahoo’s The Dagger had interesting posts this morning that openly explore the two biggest questions on everyone’s minds: Is Kentucky actually this good? and When, if ever, will Kentucky lose?
ASOB says, no, Kentucky isn’t this good–at least not right now. Like it or not, you can’t argue with the fact that the Wildcats have played by far the weakest schedule of any of the other teams in the conversation for #1. The article uses statistical evidence from Ken Pomeroy’s statistical rankings, BBState.com, and Jeff Sagarin to support their claim. However, they also say you can’t argue that Kentucky has the most talented lineup, one through five, and therefore the most upside. I agree with them on both counts. Kentucky’s best win came against UConn, and they’ve looked inconsistent all season (although, they did just knock of Texas), and their W against UNC is looking more and more meaningless by the day; the Tar Hells may not even make the NCAA Tournament. Indiana is still rebuilding, Louisville’s a disaster (more on that in a minute), who knows what the hell’s going on with Florida, and Tennessee–the one quality team we were going to have the chance to play twice–recently gave their best player the boot. It’ll be tournament time before Kentucky gets the chance to play someone that the critics can’t label ‘weak.’
Meanwhile, the folks at The Dagger are busy trying to figure out not if, but when Kentucky’s first loss will come. The prime candidates: February 2nd against Ole Miss at home, February 13th against Tennessee at home, and February 16th at Mississippi State. Tennessee and Vanderbilt on the road are the two that concern me the most, personally, but you never know. Kentucky’s going to be the biggest game on everyone else’s schedule for the rest of the season. All it takes is one off-night. With that said, given the separation in talent between Kentucky and the rest of the league, I think the Cats chances of making it through the regular season undefeated is good. Call it 60-40.
And since we also happen to be in the business of Rick Pitino slander on this site (and business is booming right now), The Dagger has this little gem on the still-in-progress train wreck that is Louisville’s season. Enjoy.
Also, Kentucky is Joe Lunardi’s current pick for the overall #1 seed in his latest bracketology lecture.