The 2014 Kentucky Wildcats have not lived up to preseason expectations. Not even close. This was a team that was ranked at, or near, the top of every major poll before the season began, so big things were expected in Lexington this season.
However, as the season progressed, head coach John Calipari and the Big Blue Nation felt the growing pains associated with a team that starts five freshmen. Kentucky has had its ups and downs all year long, but the team seemed to turn a corner at last week’s SEC tournament. Kentucky won its first two games convincingly, then took the top-ranked Florida Gators to the wire before falling.
Kentucky opened NCAA tournament play on Friday night by topping the Kansas State Wildcats in an ugly game. However, the Wildcats from Lexington were able to survive and advance.
At most schools, a 25-10 record and an NCAA tournament victory would make for a great season. However, this is Kentucky, where the Final Four is expected every year, and a national championship should be a legitimate goal each season. In other words, the Big Blue Nation is not satisfied with this season, at least to this point.
However, that could change on Sunday. Kentucky, which is seeded eighth in the Midwest Region, takes on the top seed in that region, the Wichita State Shockers, who enter the game at 35-0 on the season. Kentucky, which is accustomed to being the hunted, but will instead be the hunter in this game.
If Kentucky could pull out a win and advance to the Sweet 16, that would appease the more rational portion of the fanbase. After all, this team lost three of its last four regular season games and fell out of the national rankings. Not much more than a Sweet 16 run could be expected from them.
While this has not been the season that anyone associated with the program expected or wanted, there could still be a silver lining if Kentucky can upset Wichita State.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the United States Basketball Writers Association. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.