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Rick Barnes believes Kentucky and Kansas are the two best teams in college basketball

If Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes was the head of the NCAA Selection Committee, the Kentucky Wildcats would be a one-seed in the latest tournament projections.

In fact, if he was ranking the best teams in college basketball, John Calipari’s group would be one of the top two teams he has seen this season.

During his preview press conference this afternoon, the Tennessee head coach told reporters that Kentucky and Kansas are the two best teams in college basketball this season, adding that the Wildcats were “the most underrated, under-appreciated team in the country.”

“I think Kentucky is the most underrated and under-appreciated team in the country right now,” Barnes said of the Wildcats. “I think them, and Kansas are the two best teams in the country. They (Kentucky) haven’t lost since their game at Auburn, and Kansas I don’t think has lost since their game at home against Baylor. Right now, those are the two best teams in college basketball.”

High praise, right? He didn’t stop there, going in-depth on Kentucky’s “player of the year type candidates” and the elite coaching the Wildcats are getting from Coach Cal.

“They have two players, Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards, who are two guys that are player of the year type candidates,” Barnes said. “There’s a lot of terrific coaches in our league and nobody has done a better job than John Calipari. So, with that said they’re playing terrific defense, they get out in transition, they are as lethal as any team you will play against. They’re going to get into their sets and execute. They’ve improved since we last played them. I think we have improved a lot as well. … We know that we are going on the road to play arguably the best team in college basketball right now.”

As a team, Barnes credits Kentucky’s impressive growth and status as one of the top teams in the nation to their ability to knock down free throws in clutch moments and elite defense, among other impressive attributes.

“The free throw shooting and great defense for certain,” Barnes continued. “They do make free throws. They made a lot of free throws down the stretch when they came here to play us, and we got behind and had to foul. John’s (Calipari) teams always defend. They aren’t going to give you anything easy. I think they have definitely improved. We talked about it last time, how much Nick Richards has improved. You look at their backcourt play all around, they have improved as well. His teams always get better around this time of year. This is always when they play their best basketball. I wouldn’t say what I just said about them being one of the best teams in the country if they didn’t have the whole package. I think both them and Kansas are built for close games and the fact is, that they take care of the ball, make free throws and they are going to make you earn everything on the other end.”

Barnes’ praise of the Kentucky basketball program comes just two days after Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl gave similar praise to the Wildcats and their growth as a team from the beginning of the season to now.

“I really like Kentucky’s team,” Pearl said following Auburn’s loss to Kentucky on Saturday evening. “I really like their coach. They did an amazing job. I think they are very undervalued. I’ll tell you right now, if we don’t play them again I am rooting for them. I am rooting for them to go a long way.”

The SEC coaches are on a roll hyping up the Kentucky basketball program.

But will the NCAA Selection Committee feel the same way when Selection Sunday rolls around?

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

27 Comments for Rick Barnes believes Kentucky and Kansas are the two best teams in college basketball

  1. VirginiaCat
    10:35 pm March 2, 2020 Permalink

    Rick Barnes and Cal are close friends, so that may have factored a bit into the tenure of his comments. That said, Kentucky is unquestionably a top team and appears to be peaking at the right time. Cal is engaged and doing a good job of bringing the players along. I don’t think there is a better trio of guards in the country, Nick has exceeded expectations, and Montgomery is trending up at the right time. My biggest concern is foul trouble if we get a refereeing crew that calls touch fouls. There are at least five guys that we can’t lose to fouls in a tight game. Hopefully Cal won’t be hesitant to use a zone in situations where it is warranted to protect players who are in foul trouble. I watched the UVA/Duke game and they seemed slow and ponderous compared to our fast tempo. If we play Duke, our guards will slice them up. Go Cats.

  2. everythingsblue3
    10:38 pm March 2, 2020 Permalink

    Sounds like “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” to me…

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the praise, and appreciation of our team. But who are we playing next?


    Who is Bruce Pearl thinking his team will play again in the tournament?


    Don’t be lulled to sleep Cat fans…

    • CrystalBall
      10:53 pm March 2, 2020 Permalink

      Good advice.

    • StillBP
      7:58 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      so did he make the comments to lull the fans to sleep or the team? It’s really not that hard to believe that Cal is a great coach and other coaches think we have a chance to win it all.

  3. CrystalBall
    11:00 pm March 2, 2020 Permalink

    Barnes must not have very much basketball knowledge. There are several who comment on
    this site who indicate Ky isn’t very good, Cal can’t coach, and they will be fortunate to play in the NIT.

    • 4everUKBlue
      11:37 pm March 2, 2020 Permalink

      CrystalBall you’re so right, I guess Pat Riley is not as smart as some commenters on here either because he thinks Cal is a great coach too. Almost all his peers think so, but how could those who get paid to analyze and coach at this level know compared to say….mashbum?

  4. kentuckybackupplayer
    11:01 pm March 2, 2020 Permalink

    Mashbum just put a hit out on Barnes for saying those things and now he is screaming that Barnes can’t coach either.

  5. antiquefurnitureandmidgets
    11:28 pm March 2, 2020 Permalink

    Not really that bold of a statement. As much as I have hated watching this team play much of the season (I love the players and think they’re great kids but it’s been some of the most boneheaded decision making of any Cal team in my opinion), it does continue winning. And Kansas is clearly a top three team. Would love to watch the big men get it on in that matchup.

  6. michaelb
    12:04 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

    This is why I put 100 on them to win the ncaa

  7. ukkatzfan
    1:53 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

    Cal could be in finals against Self ? Isn’t Self always the nemesis when Cal is in Finals ?

  8. Righteous1
    2:50 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

    Barnes is 6-5 against Calipari since being at Tennessee. What else would he say before playing UK?

    • Bluehender
      6:49 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      He could have said what you said but HE’S obviously a decent guy. You’re a hater..

    • StillBP
      6:54 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      He didn’t have to say all that. Once again, the professionals disagree with Wrongous and Mashbummer. Gee, I wonder who knows more about basketball? Admitting you’re wrong isn’t really that difficult, Wrongous, unless you’re a narcissist.

    • 4everUKBlue
      7:48 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      Your comments are so lame, it’s not even fun anymore. You have zero creativity. Imagine if you put all the time you spend hating Cal and trying desperately to come up with something witty and true how much time you’d have to enjoy life and prepare for high school.

    • Bluehender
      8:54 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      Middle school 4ever..

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      4:28 pm March 3, 2020 Permalink

      Dang. You’re gonna need a new shoehorn. The one you used to wedge that comment into the conversation has to no longer be of use.

  9. UKFanSC
    7:49 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

    It is highly ironic that “Mashbum” is kept alive and on everyone’s front burner by those who think he’s a moron.

    • StillBP
      7:53 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      After several years of reading/skimming his comments, it becomes a running joke to talk about him. Only those new here don’t get it.

    • Nugget01
      10:47 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      Let’s be real here – Mashburn OWNS these dweebs. After all, how much time in an average week do these dudes spend thinking about and writing comments that refer to their master.

    • StillBP
      10:57 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      oh look, Mashbummer has another account set up. Or maybe this is Wrongous’ other account, Nugget sounds like a 8yo just like Wrongous

    • StillBP
      10:58 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      If you read our comments enough to know we talk about him, I guess you spend a lot of your time reading comments from us…your masters.

    • 4everUKBlue
      11:09 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      StillBP owns mashbum and look at this….she now owns your @ss too little Nugget.

    • StillBP
      11:16 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      who uses the word “dweeb” LOL what a joke

    • 4everUKBlue
      1:11 pm March 3, 2020 Permalink

      Only a dweeb calls someone else a dweeb.

  10. blueblood80
    8:08 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

    Actually, Kentucky has only played Kansas once in the Final 4. Kentucky WON with AD in the 2012 Final. NO nemesis quality by Self here.
    Although the Cats are only 4-6 in the last 10 meetings, Kentucky leads the overall series 23-9.
    Go Cats!

  11. blueblood80
    8:10 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

    Actually the Cats have only played Kansas once in the Final 4. The Cats won the Final led by AD in 2012. No nemesis KU branding here.

    • ukkatzfan
      8:41 am March 3, 2020 Permalink

      Who did Cal play in Memphis when he had Rose ? Years Cal is good, Self is on the other side of the court.