John Calipari and the Wildcats Get Ready for the SEC
Welcome to the beginning of the SEC schedule for the Kentucky Wildcats. A schedule that currently features just two top-25 teams and maybe four or five good teams after that. This is a position that Kentucky has found itself in before and it is a great one to be in.
A traditionally strong football conference, the SEC is traditionally beat up on by Kentucky come basketball season. You just have to look at UK's trophy case to see what I am talking about. A history that consists of 45 regular season SEC titles and 25 SEC tournament titles. They have controlled so much that during basketball season Atlanta, Georgia is renamed Catlanta.
The favorites to win the SEC this year, Kentucky and John Calipari have started this season 15-0 and now questions have begun swirling about what the Wildcats' chances are of going undefeated?
The ball is literally in Kentucky's court. If the freshman class that Calipari has assembled can continue to grow and get better each game, many things can go from being imaginary to real life.
Calipari's mind set is what has me believing the Cats can go undefeated. His one-game-at-a-time mentality is the way every coach should think. Calipari does not look forward to anything other than the one game ahead of him, the one game that he has to go through to get to the next and he gets his players to buy into it, which is the key factor.
So when Kentucky hosts the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday you better believe Calipari will have a gameplan ready to pick them apart just as he did with North Carolina and Connecticut. A struggling Georgia team should be the least of the Wildcats' worries though.
The teams that should worry Kentucky are the teams that can run with them. These teams are Ole Miss, Florida, LSU, and Tennessee, depending on what happens to the four players who have been suspended.
All four of those teams have quick guard play, who will have their hands full with John Wall, but Wall will also have his hands full with them. After watching Kentucky play the past couple years one thing remains constant with all of their teams. They find ways to beat themselves.
Any great team with tremendous upside usually ends up being its own worst enemy. Mental lapses hurt teams and they especially tend to hurt freshmen, which Kentucky, we know, has an abundance of. Just ask Illinois how tough it is to go undefeated.
If UK is to lose a game, look for it to come on the road versus one of the teams stated above. To be honest don't be surprised if Florida manages to pull it off next Tuesday. They have been good early in the season and are tough to play in Gainesville. The Cats are simply too good at home and it helps to have a fan base that makes it nearly deafening whenever they take the court.
One answer I can give you is that Calipari's Cats will come to play, and with the best point guard in the country leading the team, the possibilities are endless. Everyday experience is gained, which makes Kentucky that much harder to beat. Teams better take their shots early because the best of the Wildcats is yet to come.
Kentucky : 30-1 (15-1): I can see the Wildcats losing on the road at Vanderbilt but that will be were the losing ends and look for the Cats to win the SEC once again.
Vanderbilt: 24-6 (13-3): Vanderbilt struggled a little out of the gate. They have tremendous homecourt advantage and will begin to put the pieces together in the SEC.
Tennessee: 23-7 (12-4): This record is solely dependent on what happens to the four suspended players. If they are kicked off the team then it will be a huge loss. Without those four players Scotty Hopson and Wayne Chism can still hold their own in the conference but will be lucky to finish second in the East.
Florida: 20-10 (9-7): Florida has a talented team but are still young and a little inexperienced. They will struggle to beat Ole Miss, Tennessee, Kentucky and Vandy who all have a deeper bench then the Gators.
South Carolina: 17-13 (8-8): South Carolina has one of the best point guards in the NCAA in Devan Downey and a very good big man in Dominique Archie. Those two players will dictate how well this season goes for the Gamecocks.
Georgia: 14-15 (6-10): I don't see Georgia being very competitive this season. As we saw last year, it is possible for anyone to win a conference tournament, but don't expect that to happen again this year. Trey Thompkins is tremendous but other than that there is not a whole lot.
Mississippi: 24-6 (12-4): Terrico White and Chris Warren are very talented and the guard play is excellent for the Rebels but that is about all they are made of. They will struggle against the bigger and more physical teams in the SEC, but they will be good enough to win the West.
Mississippi State: 23-8 (11-5): Jarvis Varnado is a one-man wrecking ball that will beat some teams on his own. The matchup I can't wait to see is DeMarcus Cousins versus Varnado. Shots blocked will be at a premium in that game.
LSU: 19-11 (10-6): Bo Spencer and Tasmin Mitchell have been great, but LSU was unable to pull off a credible win in their non-conference schedule. They will be competitive and sneak in a couple of big wins in the SEC.
Arkansas: 17-14 (10-6): Getting Courtney Fortson back will help the Razorbacks dramatically. He brings a scoring option that they have been without. Look for the Razorbacks to make a nice run in the SEC and even be a sleeper in the SEC tournament.
Alabama: 19-11 (9-7): The guard-forward combination of JaMychal Green and Mikhail Torrance has been good so far this season but that is about it for the Tide. They have not played a very competitive non-conference schedule which has played to their advantage.
Auburn: 15-16 (6-10): Auburn may have played the weakest non-conference schedule to start the season. Their only legitimate game was against Florida State which they ended up losing. Lucas Hargrove is the leader of this team and I do not see them able to maintain a winning record in the conference.
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