The preseason No. 1 overall Kentucky Wildcats come into the 2013-14 college basketball season with the highest expectations of any team in the country. Kentucky will be determined to prove the naysayers wrong after finishing last season by losing in the first round of the NIT to the Robert Morris Colonials.
Once again, John Calipari has once again recruited one of the greatest freshmen classes in the history of the NCAA, and in all honesty, they are more talented than his team that won the National Championship two years ago. Julius Randle, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, James Young and Marcus Lee are all future NBA players and each one has the potential to step forward to be the best freshman in the country.
However, it’s not Kentucky’s freshmen that are going to carry this team the farthest. Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress will be the veteran anchors for this team in an extremely difficult SEC. Part of the reason Kentucky had such a poor 2012-13 season was because the Wildcats missed having NBA-caliber veterans on the team. Against the better SEC teams, look for Cauley-Stein and especially Poythress to shine more than the freshmen.
Unfortunately, I don’t see the Wildcats going undefeated in the 2013-14 season. In non-conference play they face the No. 2 ranked Michigan State Spartans, the No. 3 ranked Louisville Cardinals, the No. 25 Baylor Bears and the No. 12 North Carolina Tar Heels. As much as it would be nice for Kentucky to win against all of these teams, I don’t see it happening.
Not only is their non-conference schedule too difficult for them to go undefeated, but the other SEC teams are too talented. The Tennessee Volunteers match up well with Kentucky and the Florida Gators aren’t going to roll over and let the Wildcats win. I’m also not sure how the young Wildcats will fare against the Alabama Crimson Tide as well as Johnny O’Bryant III and the LSU Tigers.
Remember, the best team in the SEC has lost the SEC Tournament Title game for he past few seasons, including Kentucky in their National Championship season. Kentucky will not get a No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but should go to at least the Elite Eight. I’m predicting a final record of 26-5 for the Wildcats that will lead them to a No. 2 seed for the 2014 NCAA Tournament.