#3 Kentucky Wildcats: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

The Kentucky Wildcats survived a nail biter Friday evening in their season opener versus Maryland.  Once again John Calipari crushed it on the recruiting trail bringing in a talented freshman class to hopefully replace the five players from last year’s National Championship team that were selected in the NBA Draft.  UK has a huge test tonight against an experience Duke squad.

KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Last Season: 1st, 16-0 in SEC, 38-2 overall
Predicted SEC Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Nerlens Noel (Fr)/Willie Cauley-Stein (Fr)
PF: Kyle Wiltjer (So)
SF: Alex Poythress (Fr)/Jon Hood (Jr)
SG: Archie Goodwin (Fr)/Julius Mays (Sr)/Twany Beckham (Sr)
PG: Ryan Harrow (So)/Jarrod Polson (Jr)

Gone: C-Anthony Davis, SF-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, PF-Terrence Jones, PG-Marquis Teague, G/F-Darius Miller, SG-Doron Lamb, C-Eloy Vargas

2012-2013 Outlook:
The headliner of the freshman class is Nerlens Noel.  The flat-topped big man will draw a lot of comparisons to Anthony Davis because of his length, athleticism, and ability disrupt things on the defensive end.  However, Davis was more skilled on the offensive end so making a Davis 2.0 analogy is not exactly fair.  Still, he will make a major impact and be in the discussion as the top overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Calipari brought in another guy with great athleticism and length in Willie Cauley-Stein.  The seven-footer is still raw with his all-around game and very limited on the offensive end but being able to bring a guy with his size off the bench is quite the luxury for Big Blue Nation.  He has such tremendous upside and is only beginning to tap into that potential.

McDonald’s All-Americans Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin round out the ‘Cats freshmen class.  Poythress is a physical, athletic combo forward who will fill a Terrence Jones-type role.  Goodwin is an extremely gifted scorer who is at his best when attacking the basket.  He thrives on the break and will likely see some time initiating the offense since he is so hard to stay in front of on the offensive end.

Calipari also welcomes in a pair of key transfers in point guard Ryan Harrow from N.C. State and Wright State combo guard Julius Mays.  Harrow sat out last season but was able to practice with the team while Mays becomes immediately eligible as a graduate student.  Harrow obviously steps into some monster shoes having to follow in the lineage of Calipari-coached point guard.  Mays’ experience should earn him quality minutes in a reserve role.

The lone holdover who actually saw playing time on last year’s team is Kyle Wiltjer.  He played spot minutes a year ago, mostly when someone in the starting lineup was in foul trouble.  The 6-10 sophomore can stroke it from deep which will be a weakness for this Kentucky team.  He also has a decent back to the basket game but is very soft on the boards and lacks the lateral quickness to guard more athletic players.

Once again, there isn’t a ton of depth on this roster.  Jon Hood is back after missing all of last season due to a torn ACL and could add some shooting off the bench.  Jarrod Paulson is a former walk-on who played surprisingly well against Maryland and might have earned himself a spot in the rotation.

The bar has been set at Kentucky to the point where it is just about National Title or bust.  With the type of recruiting classes Coach Cal has been able to put together, (including an already LOADED group for 2013) the Wildcats reload every season replacing their several one-and-done’s.  The talent is undoubtedly there but maturing, getting accustomed to playing together against high level talent every night, and turning into the lock down defensive team they were a year ago will be a step-by-step process.  If everything meshes together, UK will have a chance to repeat.

Player to Watch: Archie Goodwin
Dick Vitale compared Goodwin to a Russell Westbrook-type player and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this; I agree with Dickie V.  Goodwin is so gifted in attacking the basket and creating off the bounce, finishing with acrobatic moves at the rim.  It was only one game but with Harrow’s struggles versus Maryland and how natural Goodwin looked handling the rock, he could turn into the lead guard.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/9 vs. Maryland (in Brooklyn)
11/13 vs. Michigan State (in Atlanta)
11/29 at Notre Dame (Big East/SEC Challenge)
12/1 vs. Baylor
12/22 vs. Marshall
12/29 at Louisville

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#7 UNLV Rebels
#8 San Diego State Aztecs
#9 Florida Gators
#10 Michigan Wolverines
#11 Syracuse Orange
#12 Duke Blue Devils
#13 Ohio State Buckeyes
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 North Carolina Tar Heels
#16 Michigan State Spartans
#17 UCLA Bruins
#18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#19 Cincinnati Bearcats
#20 Marquette Golden Eagles
#21 Creighton Bluejays
#22 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#23 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#24 Memphis Tigers
#25 Baylor Bears
#26 Wisconsin Badgers
#27 Tennessee Volunteers
#28 Pitt Panthers
#29 New Mexico Lobos
#30 St. Mary’s Gaels
#31 Georgetown Hoyas
#32 North Texas Mean Green
#33 Ohio Bobcats
#34 Texas Longhorns
#35 Miami Hurricanes
#36 Purdue Boilermakers
#37 Alabama Crimson Tide
#38 St. Joseph’s Hawks
#39 Murray State Racers
#40 VCU Rams
#41 Davidson Wildcats
#42 Stanford Cardinal
#43 UMass Minutemen
#44 St. John’s Red Storm
#45 Butler Bulldogs
#46 Florida State Seminoles
#47 Drexel Dragons
#48 St. Louis Billikens
#49 West Virginia Mountaineers
#50 BYU Cougars
#51 Temple Owls
#52 Washington Huskies
#53 California Golden Bears
#54 Kansas State Wildcats
#55 Nevada Wolfpack
#56 Colorado Buffaloes
#57 Iowa State Cyclones
#58 Northern Iowa Panthers
#59 Colorado State Rams
#60 Iowa Hawkeyes
#61 South Florida Bulls
#62 Valparaiso Crusaders
#63 Illinois Fighting Illini
#64 Arkansas Razorbacks
#65 Wichita State Shockers
#66 George Mason Patriots
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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