Seven months removed from missing the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky has returned atop college basketball as the preseason No. 1 team in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, which was released Thursday. It marks the first time in the 22-year history of the Coaches’ Poll that a team enters the season ranked No. 1 after finishing the previous season unranked.
John Calipari, as he does every year just before the season starts, traveled to Louisville on Monday to speaker to the Greater Louisville Alumni Club at the annual Wildcat Tip-Off Luncheon. Read below as Calipari talks about how the goals of the program have morphed into teaching the players more than just basketball, going 40-0 and who his biggest surprise players are.
This year’s slate is loaded. With games against Louisville, Michigan State and North Carolina, it’s hard to take fault with any of UK’s schedule. ESPN hardly does in its nonconference schedule analysis of Southeastern Conference teams. Myron Medcalf ranked the Cats’ nonconference schedule a 10 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most difficult.
Even a disappointing season that resulted in a National Invitation Tournament appearance wouldn’t stop the Big Blue Nation from watching their Wildcats. For the eighth straight season and the 17th time in 18 years, Kentucky led the nation in home attendance with an average of 23,099 fans per game.
Derek Willis has a confession to make: He grew up a Louisville fan. Why pass on the school he dreamed of playing for when it was a possibility? The choice was simple. “Kentucky was just the better opportunity.”
Kentucky will play nine opponents who made the postseason in 2013, five NCAA Tournament teams, the defending national champions, and three programs who the pundits believe will make a serious run at the Final Four during its 2013-14 nonconference schedule, which UK released Wednesday.
The two schools have agreed to a two-year, home-and-home series beginning with the 2013-14 season. The Wildcats will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., in 2013-14 to take on the Tar Heels, and the series will return to Rupp Arena during the 2014-15 season.
After watching his team get outrebounded, “outhustled” and “outworked” in the second half of doubleheader nightcap, a hot and irritated John Calipari said this letdown loss simply came down to toughness. One team (Baylor) had it. The other (Kentucky) didn’t.