How does a program like Kentucky, one that basically made the sports world enamored with one-and-done NBA prospects, go under the radar for the first few months of the college hoops season?Well, the top two teams in the country, Tennessee and Duke, have something to do with it.
For one, Duke humbled the Wildcats to open the season by 34 points, while basically crowning Coach K as the new king of landing NBA-ready freshman (this time with Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett) over Coach Cal.
Then, it was Tennessee rising to the No. 1 ranking and replacing Kentucky as the team to beat in the SEC. The Volunteers’ warmup routine, jumping together as Admiral Schofield dunks, is also the hottest new thing and copycat video on social media.
Don’t sleep on Big Blue Nation, though. We must remind the casual college basketball fan that a big-time Kentucky-Kansas matchup went down last weekend. And UK and not KU looks more like a Final Four contender in Minneapolis right now after coming up out on top in a 71-63 victory Saturday in Lexington.
That’s six straight wins for John Calipari’s Cats, including three in a row against ranked opponents (also Auburn and Mississippi State). This isn’t the same squad that got embarrassed by Duke. And they’ve also come a long way from disappointing losses to Seton Hall and Alabama.
Kentucky’s national title squad in 2012 had star power with Anthony Davis. Not sure if there’s a sure-fire top-10 pick on this year’s UK roster, but the frontcourt is flexing its muscles with Minneapolis native and Stanford graduate transfer Reid Travis and P.J. Washington combining for 38 points and 25 rebounds to lead the way vs. Kansas.
This should be one of the most interesting teams to watch heading into next month, especially with back-to-back home games against undefeated SEC teams (both 6-0) LSU and Tennessee on Feb. 12 and Feb. 16.