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#1: To be or not to be?

With Syracuse losing in South Bend last night, it’s just a formality that Kentucky will rise to the top of the polls for the second time this season when they come out Monday. That is no doubt exciting, as seeing ‘#1’ next to ‘Kentucky’ is sort of a symbolic representation of UK’s place at the pinnacle of college basketball. But, there are some who believe that the #1 ranking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Reaching #1 is a beautiful thing. It means that, in addition to Kentucky fans just believing the Cats are the best team in college basketball, there is some kind of empirical evidence to go along with that notion. However, some people think that the top spot in the polls is more of a curse than a gift. The argument can be made that a #1 ranking doesn’t matter in reality and instead creates a whole new set of problems for a team, particularly one that is so young. The target that is permanently painted on the Big Blue’s back will now be even bigger, and teams will be gunning to knock off not just Kentucky, but Number One Kentucky. If life can get any more difficult for a team that is already everyone’s Super Bowl, it did as soon as Harangody 2.0 finished off the Orange last night. As the second-ranked team in the country the Cats could be great and at the same time not be the ultimate focus of the college basketball world. As the first? There’s no hiding out.

I’m playing a little bit of devil’s advocate right now, because frankly I love being ranked #1 and I think this team can handle whatever additional pressure comes along with it. They’re all business and have already had a taste of life at the top of the polls with their short stay there earlier in the year. In fact, I think it may even have the opposite effect of those who are fearful of the #1 ranking and lead to this year’s squad raising its game to another level. All of this remains to be seen, of course, but how the team plays in their second stint as #1 will tell us a lot about how mentally prepared they are to make a run at a title.

I’ve heard a few people talk about the #1 ranking both ways, so I’m curious how the KSR nation feels. Would you rather have the top spot in the polls and all the pomp and circumstance that comes with it, or stay at #2 because in the end it doesn’t matter, thus avoiding the new headaches that the top ranking can bring? I’m pretty firmly in the ‘Be #1’ camp, but what do you say? The comments are yours to discuss.

Article written by Hunter Campbell

I used to write here.

72 Comments for #1: To be or not to be?

  1. Red Rooster
    6:02 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I’d rather be… first

  2. Eight Letters
    6:05 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I just want to be number one when it counts…..April 2, 2012.

  3. SexnNursinHomes
    6:06 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    only p*ssies say “I don’t wanna be first”. We’re UK dammit.

    It makes a big ass difference being #1 at the end of the season. I particularly want UK to get a seeding that will put our fans in the best position to go the NCAA games. The more it is like Rupp, the better for us.

  4. Housethatruppbuilt
    6:06 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    2nd is not bad either

  5. Han
    6:10 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    People play just as hard to beat us when we’re #2, so we shouldn’t worry about that. The players just need to keep their heads on their shoulders and remember that ranking doesn’t matter one bit if you don’t keep winning.

  6. randymarsh
    6:10 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I like being number one. It’s no different from the pressure and attention generated by a number one seed in the tournament. I agree with the author that this could be something that galvanizes this squad and raises their focus and play.

  7. Cats4life
    6:12 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Being first seems normal for us. Anything over #1 and we’re not reaching potential. MKG and Davis should play better, and hopefully this spurs Jones on as well. There was already a lot of pressure on these kids, so this won’t make much of a difference.

  8. Jimmy
    6:14 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    If we want to start playing like a #1 then, this is our chance. I’m I right, our I’m I right, I’m right uh, just say it. I’m right

    6:14 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink


  10. 2020
    6:15 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I’d love to see how many seasons in recent years we’ve #1 and compare our NCAA tourney records to seasons where we peaked at #2-#5. Where is BTI when you need him?

  11. OBCat
    6:16 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Being the number one overall seed makes a huge difference. Think about two years ago having west virginia as our number 2. I say we take number one now and keep it all the way.

  12. Eric K
    6:17 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink


  13. el homrbe juan
    6:18 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    what a choke job by the ravens offense, the fg kicker in particular. wow.

  14. ColoradoCat
    6:18 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

  15. capt. price
    6:19 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    In the last 3 years, how many weeks have we survived at #1?

  16. duhville cat
    6:22 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Jimmy… when ur right.. ur right. Go Cats!

    6:22 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink


  18. GreenupRox
    6:23 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    15. How many times have we been #1…twice? And I think it is only a matter of days for both times before we lost.

  19. SouthBeachWildcat
    6:26 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    If not now, then when? We barely have over a month in the season left. We are supposed to hit our stride in February and March. I say bring it. Let the world know who is the best program in the country NOW!

  20. Bledsoe's Biceps
    6:28 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I think SNH nailed it. #1 is important for seeding/matchups and the places you get to play in the tournament.

  21. GoCats2
    6:29 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Matt Jones is my number #1.

  22. David from San Diego
    6:30 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Think its healthy to deal with the pressure right now for this team. Think it is also good to face the A game they will get from every team and opposing crowd because of it. Its a challenge they can handle and learn from. Freshman struggle with pressure late in the NCAA tourney. Its why we haven’t won two of them in a row, so whatever they can face to simulate pressure and better learn to deal with it during the season is good for this specific team.

  23. Alex
    6:31 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Let me say I love The Cats as much as any rabid fan, but let me
    be the reality dealer for a minute.
    Who is to say Syracuse will drop in the polls?
    I am not sure we could beat them right now.
    We have one loss and so does Cuse.
    I am not saying we don’t deserve to be #1,
    but does our record warrant it?
    If we are going solely on record then Murray should be on top.

  24. fred
    6:32 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I’ll take #1 from 10/14/2011 – 4/3/2012

  25. Andy Milanokas
    6:34 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    First in SEC
    First in NCAA
    First in Coaches
    First numero uno 1

  26. tdogg4033011
    6:37 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    16) what up homie??

    I like being #1 in the polls, lets see how our boys respond with even a bigger target
    on their back again.

  27. UKBlue
    6:41 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Any number then #1 right now, we don’t play like we’re #1, and being #1 right now, we have no where to go but down plus we have a huge bullseye on our backs. The only relevant number is the number we have once the clock goes 00 in the championship game.

  28. bluetooth
    6:43 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    folks .. we have the best team in the nation when we are cookin on all burners .

    at times we are not … just cookin on low . but continue to win . I love this team . they are fantastic when they are on the same page .

    Cal : build a fire , we are on the cusp of hangin number 8

  29. @bigbluesean
    6:44 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Already everyone biggest game anyways so why not be #1?? Bring it on BECAUSE WE ARE the best team in college basketball!!!!

  30. UK Rifle >>>> WVU Rifle
    6:44 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Seeding make the difference (unless you are Dook, and the NCAA gives you the cush ride to the NC)

    Observe the UK women beat the Dookies, and have played 5 ranked teams and beat all of them except Notre Dame (who we would have beaten on a neutral court) and yet Dook is still ranked above UK. Ranking matters because it makes it harder for the national press to ignore you, as right now ESPN loves Dook. UK should be #1 less some turd think Ohio State more deserving in the MCBB polls, and Dook more deserving in the WCBB polls. The world will not be right until both Dook basketball programs are smashed to rubble in the national media.

    God Bless America, and Go CATS!!

  31. Get real
    6:46 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    23) we will clearly be ranked ahead of Syracuse. Their top 2 wins are Florida and gtown? Doesn’t even compare to beating UNC and Kansas. Syracuse will be ranked 3rd behind Missouri

  32. mocha
    6:55 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Respectfully, any fan who says they want their team to be anything BUT #1 is a moron.

  33. Jarnell Stokes
    6:59 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I haven’t even learned to count to 1 yet

  34. jdh
    7:00 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    If you ain’t first, you’re last.

  35. blue warrior
    7:01 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    “Who says Syracuse will drop in the polls” uuhhh the lost, duh!

  36. CPACAT
    7:03 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I would rather be Number 1 all season and then squash all opponents into submission as we cruise the national title…but short of that, I’ll take it when we can get it.

    It is also important to be #1 ranked at the end of the regular season, when the tournament is seeded. Much better to be a #1 overall seed having, supposedly, the 8th overall seed as the #2 than to be the 4th overall and have the 5th overall seed as your number 2.

  37. blue warrior
    7:04 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    #32 true dat!

  38. Not Billy Reed
    7:08 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Being no 1 going into selection sunday is one goal. We have target on our kids back every day every game. #1 now adds to media and fan frenzy. Being #1 adds to our confidence as a team and player in the huddle late in the game. Never heard a coach say “you’re ranked no 2 for reason now get out there and win this one”

  39. jesse
    7:09 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Patriots baby!!!!!!!

  40. Go Deep
    7:13 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    #1!!!!!! Shouldn’t be a question. We probably will lose one more and not be rated #1 for some part of the year but, #2 is just the first loser…. Ricky Bobby….

  41. Shendo
    7:13 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    It’s a great dress rehearsal for the big dance.

  42. Mark Wilson
    7:14 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    BE #1 in everything all the time till the end of time

  43. Jordan
    7:15 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I agree with #22. We need the pressure of being #1. Its a good thing for this team. And all of these close games are only helping them come tournament time. UK will rise to #1. Syracuse will only drop to 2nd, followed by Missouri, Ohio State and Kansas to round out the top 5. Mark it down. #6-10 is Duke, North Carolina, Baylor, Georgetown and Murray. Thats will be AP poll. GO BIG BLUE!!!!!

  44. Jordan
    7:16 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Syracuse will still get some #1 votes from the UK haters though. I guarantee you that. But not enough to stay above UK.

  45. snl1960
    7:25 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    good pressure this time of year. let everyone know where we stand.

  46. joshua watts
    7:25 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    People who say second is ok are the same ones watching numero uno running thru the prom queen and her two girlfriends. KABOOM!!!!!

  47. Yroc53
    7:32 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Ohio State got the number one overall last year and was screwed over by having us and UNC in their bracket. As long as we get a good road I will be happy. I was for the #2 ranking because of our recent performances at #1 but with the top ranking the more the sports world has to talk about UK and the better articles KSR will have to link to.

  48. mike
    7:36 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    doug gotlieb is an idot and should be fired from espn along with bobby

  49. blueblue
    7:45 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I think it’s gonna be like this

    1. Kentucky
    2. Missouri
    3. Syracuse
    4. Ohio St.
    5. Kansas
    6. Duke
    7. Baylor
    8. North Carolina
    9. Murray St.
    10.Michigan St.

  50. stew
    7:46 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Doug Gotlieb doesnt know his ass from a hole in the ground. He wouldnt know a basketball if it hit him in the vag. We have bigger wins than any school in the country and we will without a doubt be the #1 team and im gonna love every minute of it.

  51. Aaron Craft's Rosacea
    7:49 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    During the season #1 doesn’t matter much but I think it helps KY young teams develop a swagger. You DO want to have a number one seeding in the tourney though regardless of how the season plays out.

  52. Andre Chapman
    7:54 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I would rather stay at #2

  53. Wild Cats Dave
    7:55 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Do I wanna be #1? HELL YA. Do think wanna be number one right now No. I wanna be #1 when it count’s but no matter what imma still cheer my ass off for my CATS

  54. Charlie Baltimore
    7:56 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Great teams dont care what the # is next to their name. So, heck yeah lets be #1 and handle business being #1

  55. SweetWm
    7:58 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    #1….is a jink. #2..tries harder. We only want to be #1 April 2nd in NO.

  56. kfund
    8:05 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    If you can’t handle being number 1 then how can you expect to handle tourny pressure to hang a championship banner?

  57. Richard
    8:12 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    It doesn’t make a lot of difference – It only matters who is #1 at the end of season. The team just needs to win the last game they play this year!

  58. Snl1960
    8:16 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Doug, please stay home and play with your man Gina. Leave basketball to us,,,,,, big blue nation

  59. Calipari'sInYourEar
    8:40 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    You nervous nancies only breed more nervous nancies. Quit reproducing or be a UL fan.

  60. cayts
    8:40 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    6 of past 22 ncaa champs were ranked #1 or #2 during this week. (20 of past 22 in top 10)
    9 of past 12 ncaa champs had more than 1 loss thru 20 games.

  61. CAJ
    8:43 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    As a blue blooded cats fan from Myrtle Beach, SC
    UK should always be the top in college
    hoops. UK should always embrace
    the role of #1. That’s who we are! Go Big

  62. stevie
    8:45 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    Being #1 isn’t a curse. People just don’t pay much attention to being #2; #3; #4; etc… and losing. I would venture to say that teams ranked other than #1 lose quite often. Being #1 has nothing to do with causing a team to lose.

  63. TN Cat
    9:04 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    We have wins over 2 top 10 teams. I know Indiana does as well. Are there any other teams that have done that?

  64. Viren
    9:05 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I guess if we are #1 and take care of the business in the conference, then even committee can screw us with the seeding. Last year we beat Gators in the SEC Tournament like a drum and the losing team was rewarded with #2 seed, while Kentucky was awarded #4 seed in one of the toughest bracket. I believe the disrespect committee gave our guys fueled the fire for a final four run as we beat the best of the best along the way in WVA, Ohio State, and UNC. I think we will start our quest for #8 in Louisville with Regional in Catlanta. Looking forward to traveling with the Cats in the NCAA Tournament. Go Cats #1

  65. Sheeeeiiit
    9:54 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    I want to see them win the next two road games ranked #1. If we can do that we should stay at #1 the rest of the year. The flip side, some no name from Georgia or LSU hits a last second shot to win and we get to see the replay of that BS over and over and over.

  66. Dakota Cat
    9:56 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    23- you are an idiot. Please don’t post again.

  67. Catcounsel
    10:37 pm January 22, 2012 Permalink

    “UK #1 Camp” on this one people, let’s get serious! To the Big Blue Nation this is basketball season, people, and we are #1 no doubt about it and the team is going to just love this experience because now they got it back after losing it before. This accomplishment is going to go a long way with this team in proving to themselves that they have put together under Coach Calipari one hell of a college team that makes every possible opponent ask themselves if they have the stuff to take these boys on. Of course we all know the answer to that question, but it’s fun to make other teams worry about themselves instead of worrying about us, the only thing we EVER do is focus on our next opponent and plan their destruction by our ball handling which is out of this world. Whew! That was a lot but it felt good to get it out. #8 is ON IT’S WAY! Drew

  68. catsfan892
    12:03 am January 23, 2012 Permalink

    if your not first your last

  69. Dave Ball
    1:26 am January 23, 2012 Permalink

    apparently this year, the bugaboo ranking slot is #3…seems that a team gets mugged at the 3 hole, moreso than if they’re number one…I do think there is a national media bias against UK..Gottlieb claiming Ohio State with their 3 losses (including one to Kansas) should be ranked ahead of UK (ahem)…and Missouri should leap frog (from another mid-west site) into the top spot because of their handling Baylor in Waco…hmmmm…I guess beating UNC, Louisville, Kansas, and Tennessee on the road (where UConn seemed to have trouble) isn’t good enough in Gottlieb’s eyes to keep UK ahead of Ohio State (funny really)…regardless…it’s better to finish the seasons last poll (some time in April) number 1…now is for show…

  70. JimR
    1:37 am January 23, 2012 Permalink

    I love it when UK is #1. Wish we could stay on top year round. I want UK to be like the race horse that won by such a wide margin that the second place jockey thought he won. Seven times we’ve won it all. A great chance to be #1 overall for the eighth time. Who even remembers how many times we came in second in the NCAA tourney? (three, four?) Years ago, Adolph Rupp spoke for UK fans: “We want to win; we just have to win. Lord knows, no one wants to win more than we do.” He also famously said, “If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then what in the hell is that scoreboard doing up there?” Another direct quote: “We here at the University of Kentucky do not wish to merely participate in sports. Rather, we wish to be successful in sports. Basketball without victory has little meaning.” The Baron of the Bluegrass would have little patience for those who would aspire only to be #2.

  71. UKfansNKY
    10:13 am January 23, 2012 Permalink

    Who frickin cares, Number 1 only counts in March!!! Right now, Murray St. should be #1.

  72. Megan
    11:18 am January 23, 2012 Permalink

    Who doesn’t want to be #1? I don’t understand that kind of insecurity, particularly at Kentucky. It’s a good thing Cal doesn’t think like that. He’d never be our coach.