So it must be time for a Kentucky basketball post.
I previously did a post summarizing the preseason rankings. I was interested to see that, in the ESPN preseason bracketology, Lunardi has Louisville as a 1 seed and Kentucky as a 2 seed. In the same part of the bracket, so that they would face each other in the Elite 8 game, if things went according to chalk. Since Kentucky is preseason #2 in my rankings and Louisville is preseason #5, and no games have yet been played, I thought it would be worthwhile to look into what might be behind this.
One way to explain this is just that Lunardi figures, right now, Louisville should be ranked higher than Kentucky. Looking back at the preseason rankings that I used to come up with the average, I see that UK was ranked either 2 or 3 and Louisville was ranked anywhere from 4 to 9. But, OK, maybe Lunardi would put Louisville in the Preseason top 4 and UK would be from 5 to 8. If you figure Louisville as the lowest number 1 seed, you could see Kentucky as the top 2 seed and that’s why they’d match up.
But maybe Lunardi looks at how he thinks the seasons will play out and he figures, by the end of the year, Louisville will be top 4 and Kentucky anywhere from 5 to 8. So, look at the respective conferences. The ACC has four teams in my top 39 (#3-Duke, #5-Louisville, #11-North Carolina, and #12-Virginia). The SEC has five teams in the top 39 (#2-Kentucky, #7-Florida, #24-Tennessee, #27-Auburn, and #30-LSU). So the ACC is more top heavy, while the SEC has more potential top 25 teams. I’d say the ACC is stronger this year than the SEC, but not by a crazy amount.
Regardless of the strength of the conferences, how many ranked teams will Kentucky and Louisville play this year? Maybe Lunardi is basing his bracketology on strength of schedule? Louisville plays the following teams in my top 39: #29-Michigan; #10-Texas Tech; #2-Kentucky; #3-Duke; #12-Virginia (x2); and #11-North Carolina. Kentucky plays the following top 39 teams: #1-Michigan State; #17-Ohio State; #5-Louisville; #10-Texas Tech; #27-Auburn (x2); #24-Tennessee (x2); #30-LSU; and #7-Florida (x2). Certainly Kentucky has better strength of schedule here, so that can’t be it.
If you look at the rest of the bracketology, Lunardi has Florida as one of the 1 seeds, while Louisville is the only 1 seed for the ACC and Duke and North Carolina are 2 seeds. Clearly, Lunardi sees Florida and Lousiville as the class of their respective conferences. I don’t think the facts bear it out at this point, but let’s play the games and then, by December 28, we’ll see how it goes. There’s no doubt Louisville has a good team this year. But the game is in Rupp, so I like the Cats’ chances. Before that game, Louisville has a game at Miami, Michigan at home and a neutral court game against Texas Tech. Kentucky has no big games at home, but three neutral court games, including the biggie to start the year against #1 Michigan State. I predict both teams will have 1 loss by the time they meet on December 28.