One amazing characteristic about the nine years of John Calipari has been the amount of memorable teams that he has produced at Kentucky. I think you could argue that six of his teams (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017) will always be remembered as some of the best in the modern era. Some of those teams earned that because of the personalities on the teams, some of them earned that because of their results in the NCAA Tournament, and some did it through a mixture of those two things and classic moments. The 2013 team was completely derailed by the injury to Nerlens Noel but, to be fair, that was shaping up to be a mediocre season with him. That team was destined to be forgotten. The Ulis-Murray team is on the fringe of memorable because of their early exit in the NCAA Tournament but those two guys will still be remembered for a very long time.
This team stands on the verge of being forgotten. What has been the moment that will go down in UK lore? Who is the personality on this team that we will always remember? They don’t exist. This team has had a fine season. A solid season. There is certainly talent on this team, a few guys that will even play in the NBA. But there just hasn’t been anything to consider this season “special”.
All it will take for that to change is 4 wins though. Four wins and this team can at least be remembered as a good team. Here’s how they can do it:
- 2 wins in SEC Tournament (make final) and 2 wins in NCAA Tournament (Sweet 16)
- 1 win in SEC Tournament (make semifinal) and 3 wins in NCAA Tournament (Elite 8)
- 4 wins in NCAA Tournament (Final Four)
If this team can not do one of those three things above I think an argument can be made this is the most forgettable season in the Calipari era. Now, if they accomplish Option 1 and make the final of the SEC Tournament and the Sweet 16, that doesn’t mean they will be considered a great team. They would likely still be considered Cal’s 2nd or 3rd worst team. But I think people could then look back on this season and say they accomplished the limit that their talent gave them.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if the Cats lose to Missouri or Auburn, missing the SEC Tournament final for just the 2nd time in the Cal era, and then don’t make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, you’d have to say this season was a bust. This was the 5th ranked team in the country in the preseason. They have McDonald’s All-Americans all over the roster. They, in theory, had a decently deep bench compared to other Cal teams. The pieces were, in theory, all there for another great season. At this point it hasn’t happened.
This team stands on the precipice of having the worst penalty a team could have: to be forgotten. But all they need is four wins to remove that from consideration. Can they do it?