Kentucky mens basketball ranked No. 4 in preseason AP Poll


Isabel McSwain

Kentucky mens basketball head coach John Calipari talks to fans during an open practice and telethon benefitting flood victims in Eastern Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

Kentucky mens basketball earned the No. 4 overall ranking in the 2022-2023 preseason college basketball AP Poll on Monday.

The ranking marks the 13th time in 14 total seasons under current head coach John Calipari that the Wildcats find themselves ranked amongst the top 10 in the preseason poll, with the Cats being within the top 11 in all 14 seasons.

The ranking also marked the 11th time the Wildcats have been tabbed within the top five during that tenure.

Other rankings across the sport see Kentucky ranked in similar or higher spots with ESPN and CBS Sports ranking Kentucky No. 4, Blue Ribbon magazine ranking the Wildcats No. 3 and giving UK the No. 1 overall ranking.

Looking ahead to Kentucky’s schedule, four of Kentucky’s non-conference opponents found themselves ranked within the top 25.

Michigan was tabbed at No. 22, with Kentucky traveling to London, England, to battle the Wolverines on Dec. 4.

Kentucky’s CBS Sports Classic opponent, UCLA, was ranked No. 8 in the poll, while UK’s Big 12-SEC Challenge opponent, the national championship winning Kansas Jayhawks, were tabbed at No. 5.

The only opponent ranked higher than Kentucky is the Gonzaga Bulldogs which found themselves ranked No. 2, just behind the North Carolina Tarheels.

The final team ranked ahead of Kentucky is No. 3 Houston, who made it to the Elite Eight in last year’s NCAA Tournament before being knocked out by Villanova.

Rounding out the top five, Baylor tied with Kansas in votes, so the Bears claimed co-ownership of the No. 5 spot. The Bears were a No. 1 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, having won the national title the year prior.

Ironically the Bears were in Kentucky’s section of the bracket, though both teams were stunned in the first two rounds with the Wildcats falling to No. 15 Saint Peter’s and Baylor being upset by No. 8 North Carolina, with both underdogs going on to face-off in the Elite Eight.

Looking ahead to Kentucky’s conference schedule, five SEC teams, including Kentucky, were ranked in the preseason AP Poll.

First, Alabama found itself tabbed at No. 20, having been upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year against No. 11 Notre Dame, with Kentucky traveling to Tuscaloosa on Jan. 7.

Five spots above Alabama, the Tide’s in-state rival Auburn found itself ranked No. 15, having earned a No. 2 seed and regular season SEC championship last season before being upset by No. 10 Miami in the second round. The Tigers travel to Lexington to face Kentucky inside Rupp Arena on Feb. 25, the second-to-last home game of the regular season for the Wildcats.

Just outside the top 10, last season’s SEC Tournament champions, the Tennessee Volunteers, are ranked No. 11, having earned a No. 3 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament before being dumped in the second round by No. 11 Michigan.

Kentucky faces the Vols twice in the 2022-2023 season, first traveling to Knoxville on Jan. 14 before hosting Tennessee on Feb. 18.

Finally, the No. 10 ranking went to the Arkansas Razorbacks, who made it all the way to the Elite Eight as a No. 4 seed last season, even stunning No. 1 Gonzaga in the process, before coming up short to No. 2 Duke.

The Razorbacks travel to Rupp Arena on Feb. 7 before hosting Kentucky inside Bud Walton Arena on March 4 in the final game of the regular season.

The Wildcats have high ambitions going into this season, returning the bulk of its production, including consensus national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe, along with adding the usual number of five-star prospects in the process.

In a year where some feel like a national title is a must, the road to No. 1 starts from the No. 4 position.