Kentucky arguably has the highest floor of any team of these “underwhelming” teams. When you have Oscar Tshiebwe manning the middle, a lottery pick in the backcourt and athletes everywhere, even a disappointing year is still going to likely end with a team near the top 25. Still, that’s not where anyone associated with Kentucky men’s basketball sets the standard at this blueblood program, and there are some real concerns about this group’s ceiling.
This is nowhere close to Kentucky’s most talented roster under John Calipari; in fact, I’d contend it’s among his least talented groups. That came with a trade-off: Older, experienced transfers like Sahvir Wheeler, Antonio Reeves, CJ Fredrick and Jacob Toppin instead of NBA-bound one-and-dones who need more seasoning. But Kentucky has made its fair share of “freshman mistakes” anyway, plus seems to have little lineup cohesion and can’t out-talent top-tier competition. The Wildcats’ offense just doesn’t feel threatening because of rather limited weapons from three around Tshiebwe and a lack of guards who can create their own shot. Point guard Wheeler has his limitations, but there are some trade-offs when he’s not in the game without another true point guard in the rotation.
The Wildcats are still on the fringes of SEC contention and I’d be surprised if they fall out of the top 25 often, but this team lacks the national title ceiling I thought it had in the preseason.