Like It or Not, Kentucky's Season Starts in the NCAA Tournament

The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst IMarch 14, 2010

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 13:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats gestures as he coaches against the Tennessee Volunteers during the semirfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena on March 13, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

John Calipari was hired at Kentucky last spring to bring the Wildcats back to prominence. And prominence is measured with national championships in Lexington; they don’t have banners for any one of their 26 SEC titles.

Calipari came to the Bluegrass with a rebuilding job on his hands. The Wildcats failed to make the NCAAs for the first time in 18 years under the beleaguered Billy Gillispie. But "Coach Cal" has brought this program back to national elite status in just one season.

But now the pressure is really ratcheted up on the coach looking for his first national championship.

Freshman John Wall and Demarcus Cousins are very likely gone to the NBA after the season, as is Patrick Patterson. It would be very difficult to come close to the success of this season replacing those three.

I am not saying it is now or never for the Wildcats, but is very likely now or two plus years from now.

For a program who hasn’t won the title since 1998, will Kentucky fans be upset if Calipari is not able to hang the 8th banner in Rupp Arena? The road starts Thursday against East Tennessee State.