Unfortunately, this is probably the more exciting SEC to watch this season.
If Kentucky is the premiere basketball team in the SEC, which we know it to be, then it serves as the best example of what the league’s basketball season has been like so far: a struggle, and something of a disappointment.
And we’re not the only ones to take notice.
The conference with reigning champions in both football and basketball has kept the momentum in the former, but seemingly lost all motivation in the latter. ESPN spent some time yesterday looking at the league’s challenges, and just what’s causing them.
Last season, Kentucky won the national title with relative ease. Its place atop the podium in New Orleans seemed like a formality as early as January of last year.
Eight months seems like such a long time ago, now, but that’s all it’s been since Anthony Davis and Co. cut down the nets in New Orleans. Fast forward, and you’ve got a team, and basically an entire conference, on bubble watch.
A league accustomed to prestige, however, has been humbled through the first two months of the 2012-13 college basketball season. Plus, the conference’s contenders have failed to prove that they’re among the elite. … Then there’s Kentucky, a program that’s essentially made up of NBA prospects who look great in warm-ups but rarely play to their potential after tipoff.
“You can say, ‘Well, you don’t have this and you don’t have that.’ Well, we’re getting in league play, and it’s all going to shake out,” John Calipari said during the SEC’s first media teleconference last week.
So far, that shakeout has resulted in Kentucky and Missouri, both teams listed as favorites for the SEC title earlier in the season, each picking up conference losses against supposedly far inferior foes. Meanwhile, Auburn and Mississippi State are 2-0. If that’s not a league in turmoil, I don’t know what is.
Thankfully, the SEC doesn’t have to worry about some of the things that other leagues do: conference realignment, coaching defections, and whether or not Louisville is going to be added to the league. In the grand scheme of things, if trying to figure out what’s happening to our basketball season is the SEC’s biggest concern, then things are going pretty well. This is one of the worst leagues years in recent memory, and there’s every reason to think it’ll be turned around by next year at the latest, March at the earliest. Meanwhile, Kentucky will have to go about living up to this sort of preseason hype:
Then: Six future pros anchored a national championship squad that also enjoyed the senior leadership of Darius Miller.
Now: The Wildcats might be the most “talented” team in the SEC, but their inconsistency — and lack of experience — has kept the program from living up to the preseason hype.
Oh, and the article also mentioned Kentucky as being the NCAA’s “cold-streak” team of the week after dropping a second game at home this season.
Cold: Kentucky had won 55 consecutive games at Rupp Arena before last month’s loss to Baylor. The current team won five in a row after that streak was snapped. But Saturday’s home loss to Texas A&M means the Wildcats will start from scratch again when they play Tennessee at home on Tuesday.
Hopefully things change starting tonight against Tennessee. Let’s hope Poythress comes to play against his former in-state school.