Dribble Handoff: With Kentucky struggling so far, how will the Wildcats finish the regular season?

After beginning the season she was ranked No. 4 within the AP High 25, Kentucky He fell wanting a single vote on this week’s ballot amid a 1-3 begin to SEC play that featured an embarrassing 78-52 loss in Alabama The Saturday adopted by a 71-68 loss to South Carolina on Tuesday that snapped a 28-game profitable streak at Rupp Area for the Wildcats. forty sixth in internet with an 0-4 file in Quad 1 video games, the Wildcats had been a deep disappointment after returning Nationwide Participant of the Yr Oscar Cheppui together with different key gamers like Sahvir Wheeler and Jacob Toppin from a 26-8 group.

On the heels of a surprising loss to No. 15-ranked St. Peter within the first spherical of the NCAA match final yr, frustration with 14th-year coach John Calipari is at an all-time excessive inside the UK fan base. The present’s final Huge Dance win got here in 2019, and it abruptly appears as if there are not any ensures that 2023 will yield a single win.

However there are two months left till that Sunday and Kentucky nonetheless has time to show issues round. 5-star freshmen Casson Wallace and Chris Livingston have each proven encouraging flashes and may solely get higher because the season progresses. Sharp taking pictures guard CJ Fredrick should additionally return from a finger harm in some unspecified time in the future whereas taking part in within the league.

The vary of Wildcats scores stays extensive, and the Calipari interval saga hits milestone numbers to seize the game’s collective consideration for weeks to return. For this week’s version of the Dribble Handoff, our writers provide their predictions for the way Kentucky’s season will finish.

Bubbles group cats, however they make an enormous jig

  • Anticipated convention file: 10-8
  • I predicted the NCAA match: quantity 9

Kentucky has been mediocre all season and would not appear about to show issues round. The Wildcats blew Alabama by 26 factors. They’re 3-3 of their previous six video games, and nonetheless personal zero wins in Q1 and all the way down to forty fifth within the standings. Clear56 in BartTorvik.com and 62 in KPI.

The UK appears like a possible bubble group.

At this level, I am skeptical that the Wildcats will stay as much as the preseason expectations that had them because the No. KenPom.com, are within the prime 5 mainly throughout and are rated as SEC favorites – however I nonetheless assume they will land on the correct facet of the bubble and make the NCAA Event. After which… who is aware of? A yr in the past, UK had an awesome common season adopted by a horrible NCAA match. This yr may conceivably be the alternative – a disappointing common season adopted by a bland NCAA Event. The Wildcats nonetheless have CBS Sports activities Nationwide Participant of the Yr (Oscar Tshiebwe) and a projected lottery choose (Cason Wallace). It isn’t probably the most gifted roster John Calipari has ever put collectively, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a extra gifted roster than most coaches. Now it is only a matter of understanding just a few issues, doing sufficient to make the sector of 68, after which seeing if issues can break the correct approach when that single-elimination cycle kicks off. – Gary Parish

The UK season stays bumpy, however the huge wins are to return

  • Anticipated convention file: 11-7
  • I predicted the NCAA match: quantity 9

Despite the fact that UK is at 1-2 within the SEC – I might count on it to be 2-2 after batting South Carolina AT HOME TUESDAY NIGHT – This convention goes to be so powerful that we will not moderately count on the Wildcats to tug something greater than a four-game profitable streak between now and the postseason. There are seven highway exams, in addition to a house match on 28 January in opposition to second place Kansas Within the newest version of the SEC/Huge 12 Problem. Due to this fact, losses will accumulate periodically. Nonetheless, I count on Kentucky to search out some resolve and toughen up its protection.

I count on it to attain some decisive wins in Quad 1 and guarantee it avoids bubble-talk by the second week of March. It should find yourself being just like the group in 2014 that was within the 8/9 recreation. As a result of with 5 losses already and possibly at the least 5 extra between now and this specific Sunday, it is optimistic to say Kentucky will earn a single-digit seed. I’ll say it runs tight, although, due to its good efficiency on the SEC course. And: Kentucky goes to beat Kansas later this month. Matt Norlander

Wildcats hit their stride by February

  • Anticipated convention file: 13-5
  • I predicted the NCAA match: No. 6

There is no such thing as a query that Kentucky underperformed preseason and even consolation prospects within the season after early struggles prompted a reset. A ten-5 begin to the season is low for Kentucky even in case you have critical issues. Nonetheless, there are causes for cautious optimism. That is quietly top-of-the-line 3-point taking pictures squads Calipari has ever featured within the UK, and Oscar Chebuy, for all his struggles, continued to flip the offensive glass and produce second likelihood possibilities.

Just a few minor tweaks to participant roles and an elevated concentrate on doing what he does properly – taking pictures 3-pointers, feeding Cason Wallace possibilities to set the desk and getting Tshiebwe into favorable spots – is perhaps sufficient to show issues round. There are nonetheless some issues on the sidelines that want main enchancment – this group is horrible at taking pictures free throws they usually’re continually hitting the champ ball late in time when attacking – however I’ve seen sufficient positives to consider they may very well be a No. 6 or No. 7 seed within the Event NCAA and return to the highest 15 degree on the finish of the common season.. – Kyle Boone

UK within the First 4, one of many final groups in Huge Dance

  • Anticipated convention file: 9-9
  • I predicted the NCAA match: No. 12 (first 4)

Kentucky performs an archaic offensive type that’s outlined by methodical tempo and restricted ground spacing. With out an elite protection that may continually create transitional alternatives, the UK are slowed down of their half of the sector and wrestle to search out rhythm or construct momentum. Schematically, Calipari did not have it at this level in his profession to tug the strings wanted to unleash the potential of this roster.

The SEC backside feeders will make sure the Wildcats get a good variety of league wins. However UK would not get an everyday season rematch with No. 4 Alabama, placing big concentrate on two video games in opposition to No. 5. Tennessee And two matches in opposition to No. 15 Arkansas. Outdoors of these competitions, one match with twenty first place Auburn And the Huge 12/SEC Problem recreation with No. 2 Kansas represents Kentucky’s solely possibilities so as to add substance to its resume.

It is laborious to see the Wildcats do higher than 2-4 or 3-3 in opposition to Arkansas (2 video games), Tennessee (2 video games), Auburn, and Kansas. Kentucky appears destined for the NCAA match bubble, and I will take a swing on the Wildcats taking place within the first 4 like different blue bloods like IndianaAnd Michigan State And College of California you could have in recent times. – David Cobb

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