Kentucky Basketball: Should the 'Cats Be Ranked?

Matt OveringContributor IIIDecember 2, 2012

Dec 1, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari talks with guard Ryan Harrow (12) during a time out against the Baylor Bears at Rupp Arena. Baylor defeated Kentucky 64-55. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE

There has not been much to cheer about for Kentucky basketball fans in recent weeks. The 4-3 Wildcats have lost two straight games to unranked opponents. An argument can be made for Kentucky to be unranked for the first time in the John Calipari era.

That argument has a valid point: Kentucky would (presumably) be the only three-loss ranked team, if they were indeed ranked by voters. 

From this season alone, Kentucky has not proven to be a Top 25 team. The Wildcats have one quality win over Maryland in their first game of the season. Aside from that, they have three losses to teams that were ranked lower.

Two of their losses came against teams that were favored to win, per Sporting NewsDuke (-3) and Notre Dame (-2).

Even though those losses were predictable, they were "upsets" if you look at ranks: Duke was ranked ninth when they beat No. 3 Kentucky in the Georgia Dome, and Notre Dame was unranked when they took down the No. 8 Wildcats.

The other loss, and most recent, was at home against Baylor. Kentucky was expected to bounce back after their loss to Notre Dame but failed to do so. The loss ended an absurd 55-game home win streak and showed us that this Kentucky team is not the same as years prior.

There is, of course, still talent. Kentucky had the No. 2 recruiting class in 2012, according to ESPN. Archie Goodwin, Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress are all potential lottery picks in the 2013 NBA draft.

But they haven't shown it this season.

Defensively, the Wildcats show effort, but that is far from what is needed to win games against talented teams. And although the effort is there, there are lapses in judgment, and the young Wildcats still jump at the slightest pump fake. 

That creates problems when the offense cannot score. Against Baylor, Kentucky shot an abysmal 21-of-71 from the field. That's 50 missed shots in a 40-minute game. The defense cannot buoy an offense that struggles to score in such large amounts. 

That is why the Kentucky Wildcats should not be ranked after their loss to Baylor. A lackadaisical offense and a suspect defense are not signs of a Top 25 team.

If and when the Wildcats put it together, they'll be a force. The talent is there, but this team just doesn't mesh when they are on the court. That should come with time.

Even still, rankings should not be based upon where you expect a team to be at the end of the year. Rankings are built weekly on games played, not on games to come.

If they happen to be ranked, on any ballot, it would be because of Calipari's track record of success and Kentucky's reputation alone.

Reputation does not deserve a ranking. It is a team's play on the court that earns ranks, and at 4-3, Kentucky has shown that it is not a Top 25 team—at least not yet.