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.