Like it or not, John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats are back in the National Championship hunt after a disastrous season last year. Kentucky hasn’t just done it quietly either Kentucky has gone on the road and won several monster games, including ones over Kansas and Alabama, both by double digits.
When many left Coach Cal and the Kentucky Wildcats for dead, John Calipari prepared to retake the College Basketball world, one opponent at a time. Despite losing two early games in the Southeastern Conference slate, Kentucky has gone on a warpath, winning six straight games, four of which were by double digits.
So how has the Kentucky Wildcats turned around the complete perception surrounding the program in a matter of years?
Well, for starters, it’s Kentucky. Like Alabama or Georgia in football, Kentucky reloads their roster each year with young talent and talent from the transfer portal.
This particular Kentucky Wildcats basketball team has a fine mixture of experience and young NBA-worthy talent.
Kentucky has four guards that, in all honesty, are about as good as any roster in all of College Basketball all four guys have a legitimate shot at making a lot of money at the next level. Led by TyTy Washington, Kentucky has the backcourt that only legends develop from. When TyTy is on the court, Kentucky is a different team than without him.
However, Kentucky has another three guys including, Sahvier Wheeler, Davion Mintz, and Kellan Grady. Wheeler transferred to Kentucky last year from Georgia, Kellan Grady from Davidson, and Davion Mintz from Creighton. All three add an extra layer of experience to the young talent of TyTy Washington.
Over in the frontcourt, Kentucky has the national player of the year, Oscar Tshiebwe leading the charge to number nine for the Wildcats. Oscar Tshiebwe, or ” Machine” as many around College Basketball call him, is a transfer from West Virginia who has taken the College Basketball world by storm with his insane natural big man tendencies. Oscar Tshiebwe mounted 27 points on 19 rebounds in Saturday’s 78-57 win over Flordia; that double-double was the 19th of the season for Oscar Tshiebwe in the 2021-2022 season. There is no better big man in the country than Oscar Tshiebwe; that’s just the honest to God truth. Oscar controls the tempo of the game from all aspects, making it next to impossible to scheme around.
If in the case of a rare bad game from Oscar, Kentucky has a whole host of guys on block that can pick up the slack when needed, we saw that in Lance Ware on Saturday against Flordia. Lance Ware is the guy that might not score a lot of points as we saw on Saturday, but Ware picks up the slack as the dominant enforcer to help carry the load for Oscar. When things got chippy, Oscar was able to continue his dominance because of the sacrifices made by Lance Ware to clean up the post.
A lot of people around College Basketball coined this season for Kentucky as the revenge tour for John Calipari and his Wildcats, and at this point in the season, I would have to agree. Kentucky has dominated over the last two months and has started to show signs of the Kentucky teams of old. Head Coach John Calipari has also regained his swagger and, his love for this 2022 team is endless.
Kentucky may or may not win a National Championship this year, but like any year that the Wildcats are good, it just makes College Basketball all that much better and more enjoyable to watch.
Kentucky will head south to Knoxville, Tennessee, to face the Tennessee Volunteers, a team the Kentucky Wildcats dismantled earlier in the year by 28 points. It’ll be tough, but expect for Kentucky to enter Thompson Boiling Arena with a major chip on their back as they continue to show the rest of the College Basketball what Kentucky Basketball is all about.