Kentucky mens basketball drops out of final AP Top 25 before March Madness


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) walks through the handshake line after the No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Vanderbilt mens basketball game in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt won 80-73. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Ayden Parece, Reporter

Kentucky mens basketball dropped out of the Top 25 in the final AP Poll of the season on Monday. 

After breaking into the poll in the week 17 edition of the rankings, the Wildcats sat at No. 23 in the country.

After splitting its last regular season week of play in half, Kentucky remained stagnant in last week’s poll, staying at the No. 23 spot after losing to Vanderbilt on senior night and redeeming the loss later that week with a victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks on their home court. 

In doing so, Kentucky was rewarded with the third seed in the SEC tournament, along with a double bye, picking up its first opponent in the quarterfinals of the tournament. 

In a rematch against co-SEC coach of the year Jerry Stackhouse and the Commodores on Friday, March 10, the Wildcats lost 80-73 to Vanderbilt and were sent home early in preparation for the NCAA tournament. 

With Selection Sunday now in the past and the NCAA tournament on the horizon, Kentucky will enter the big dance with a 21-11 overall record and a 12-6 record in conference play. 

Although the Wildcats’ dropped out of the top 25, the top five schools saw a major shakeup in the final poll of the regular season, including a new No. 1 overall team. 

Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) runs down the court during the No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Vanderbilt mens basketball game in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt won 80-73. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff (Jack Weaver)

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (29-5) sat atop the top 25 following their dominant win over Texas A&M in the SEC championship. The Houston Cougars (31-3) follow just behind at No. 2, this time followed by Purdue (29-5) at No. 3.

Kansas (27-7) dropped down a spot to No. 4 after Purdue swooped into the No. 3 spot, with Texas (26-8) following behind at No. 5 to fill out the top five schools in the country. 

With Kentucky now out of the top 25, the SEC now has one less representative in the poll, propelling the Big 12 into sole possession of the most dominant conference.

Alongside the Big East, the three conferences combined for a total of 12 ranked teams. The Big 12 remained the strongest of the three conferences however, with four teams inside the top 15 seeds in the country. 

Alabama remained the SEC’s highest ranked team as the No. 1 overall team while No. 4 Kansas represented the Big 12 and No. 6 Marquette represented the Big East.

Looking into the biggest movers in the rankings, the final AP Poll saw UCLA drop five spots from No. 2 to No. 7 after losing to Arizona.

In the opposite direction, Duke jumped nine spots from No. 21 to No. 12 after defeating No. 14 Virginia 59-49 in the ACC championship game, making the Blue Devils the week’s biggest mover. 

Circling back toward the downward trajectories from the final poll, Kansas State dropped three spots from No. 12 to No. 15 following its loss to TCU in the Big 12 tournament. 

Memphis broke its way into the top 25 this week, sitting at the No. 24 spot following its 75-65 win over No. 2 Houston in the AAC championship game.

Florida Atlantic filled out the last spot in the week 19 poll at the No. 25 spot following its win over UAB in the USA tournament. 

With the Big Dance now on the Horizon, Kentucky approaches the NCAA tournament as a No. 6 seed in the East region of the bracket. The Wildcats will return to action on Friday, March 17, in Greensboro, North Carolina, at 7:10 p.m. against the Providence Friars, led by former Kentucky player Bryce Hopkins. The game will be aired live on ESPN. 

A full list of AP Top 25 can be viewed below:

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide (29-5)
  2. Houston Cougars (31-3)
  3. Purdue boilermakers (29-5)
  4. Kansas Jayhawks (27-7)
  5. Texas Longhorns (26-8)
  6. Marquette Golden Eagles (28-6)
  7. UCLA Bruins (29-5)
  8. Arizona Wildcats (28-6)
  9. Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-5)
  10. UConn Huskies (25-8)
  11. Baylor Bears (22-10)
  12. Duke Blue Devils (26-8)
  13. Xavier Musketeers (25-9)
  14. Virginia Cavaliers (25-7)
  15. Kansas State Wildcats (23-9)
  16. Miami Hurricanes (25-7)
  17. Texas A&M Aggies (25-9)
  18. San Diego State Aztecs (27-6)
  19. Saint Mary’s Gaels (26-7)
  20. Tennessee Volunteers (23-10)
  21. Indiana Hoosiers (22-11)
  22. TCU Horned Frogs (21-12)
  23. Missouri Tigers (24-9)
  24. Memphis Tigers (26-8)
  25. Florida Atlantic (31-3)

Others receiving votes:

Creighton (94), Oral Roberts (58), Kentucky (39), Iowa State (32), VCU (26), Utah State (15), Penn State (11), Charleston (10), West Virginia (2), Drake (2), Kent State (2), Northwestern (2).