Kentucky Basketball 2012-13: Will Wildcats Crack Top 25 Again This Season?

Bobby ReaganFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

Jan 15, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) reacts in the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Tennessee 75-65. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

It is an unusual sight for Kentucky basketball, but currently there is not a ranked number next to its name on the scoreboard. 

After winning the national championship last season, Big Blue Nation wants to know if and when the Wildcats will return to the Top 25. 

The answer is simple. 


Kentucky has turned the corner on its season and is ready to make a run, but more importantly string together games with a large margin of victory. It also helps the Wildcats are in the middle of conference play during a down year in the SEC.

The Wildcats are currently sitting at 12-5, 3-1 in SEC play, with road wins over Auburn and Vanderbilt in conference play. In their next 14 games, Kentucky only plays four ranked teams, one of them being Florida twice. 

The other two games are at No.23 Ole Miss and at home against No. 22 Missouri. Neither team has given Wildcat fans any reason to think they can't win either of the games. Ole Miss did defeat Missouri by 15, but also lost to Indiana State and Middle Tennessee State. 

Missouri on the other hand has lost all three of its true road games. With the Tigers coming to Rupp Arena at the end of February, it gives Kentucky a chance to make a statement at home against what should be a ranked team at the time. 

These wins, though, are based on the consistency of three players for Kentucky. 

Kyle Wiltjer, Nerlens Noel and Ryan Harrow.

Wiltjer, a 6'10" sophomore, seems to have finally found his shooting stroke again. He has scored 17 points in each of Kentucky's last two games as well as pitched in nine total rebounds and seven assists. If Wiltjer is able to play at this pace for the rest of the season, it makes Kentucky almost impossible to guard.

When Wiltjer is hitting shots from behind the arc, it draws another defender away from the post allowing drives for Harrow, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin. Wiltjer's scoring ability coming off the bench also allows John Calipari to mix-and-match his lineup.

Noel, who has been the best player for the Wildcats so far this season, is averaging 10.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.1 blocks and 2.6 steals per game. His development on the offensive end for Kentucky has developed a unique weapon on both sides of the ball. Noel's ability to turn defense into offense will allow the Wildcats a chance to run on other SEC teams. 

The chance to run though belongs in the hands of Harrow, the point guard. Harrow has been impressive since returning to the team earlier this season as he is now averaging over 10 points a game and committing just 1.6 turnovers. 

If these three Wildcats continue to play the way they have, coupled with the weak schedule, Kentucky could make a serious run, losing only one or two more times in the regular season. Soon enough Kentucky will be back where it belongs; ranked in the Top 25.