Kentucky cleared their biggest hurdle to an undefeated regular season on Saturday afternoon, as they went into Louisville and knocked off the No. 4 Cardinals in relatively easy fashion.
Kentucky is now 13-0 on the season and getting ready for their SEC opener against Ole Miss on January 6th, meaning now is the time for talk of an undefeated season to start ramping up. If we’re being honest, it’s probably still too early for that; Kentucky still is not one-third of the way to 40-0 yet.
But it’s going to happen, and the biggest reason why is that Kentucky simply won’t face all that many challenges the rest of the season. Here are the five toughest games remaining on Kentucky’s regular season schedule:
- 1. Feb. 7th at Florida (Kenpom: -6): On paper, Florida is the second-best team in the SEC this season, but Chris Walker and Kasey Hill have yet to live up to the hype they had coming out of high school. It also remains to be seen just how big of an impact Alex Murphy will have now that he’s eligible.
- 2. Jan. 24th at South Carolina (Kenpom: -9): Kenpom is calling South Carolina the second-best team in the SEC. With all due respect to Frank Martin’s club, that should tell you much of what you need to know about the SEC. The Gamecocks have lost to Charlotte and Akron.
- 3. March 3rd at Georgia (Kenpom: -9): This will be a bit of a trap game. Georgia is a tough, veteran team with some good perimeter scorers and some size up front. A mid-week road-trip with Florida coming up that weekend at home is an easy game for a bored team to overlook.
- 4. Feb. 10th at LSU (Kenpom: -12): LSU has plenty of talent, particularly along their front line. But if Louisville’s back court of Chris Jones and Terry Rozier got eaten alive by Kentucky, what happens to Josh Gray and Keith Hornsby.
- 5. March 7th vs. Florida (Kenpom: -13): It’s hard to imagine Kentucky losing to their biggest SEC rival in the final game of the regular season with 31-0 on the line, but you never know with a Billy Donovan team.
Kenpom’s numbers are nothing but a match formula, but think about this: he gives them a 24.1 percent chance of winning out during the regular season, a number that’s unheard of. There’s only one games — at Florida — where his equations don’t give Kentucky at least an 84 percent chance of winning, and even then he’s predicting a 77 percent chance for UK to win that game.
Kentucky has a ton of work left to do, and keeping their focus on nights where they should land an easy victory will likely be the most difficult thing they try to do this season.
A 31-0 regular season is anything-but a given.
But there’s a reason the speculation will be overwhelming.