Once again, blue-blood Kentucky finds itself at the top of the leaderboards in terms of contending for a national title.
It's pretty much a guarantee that the Wildcats will always be one of the favorites, but that really hasn't translated into much success in recent years. Despite the immense amount of talent and constant top-recruiting classes, Kentucky has managed to win just one NCAA Tournament game over the last three years. In that same span, they missed the tournament entirely in 2021 and lost to a No. 15 seed in 2022. This has all led to whispers going on around that long-time head coach John Calipari could be fired if the team doesn't start seeing more success.
The team lost superstar big man Oscar Tshiebwe after this past season, as well as veterans Sahvir Wheeler and Cason Wallace, who ended up being the No. 10 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
However, it is not all bad for the big-time basketball program. Star Antonio Reeves decided to return, which was a huge plus for their roster heading into this coming season. They also utilized the transfer portal to bring in West Virginia star Tre Mitchell, who left after Bob Huggins' resignation.
The biggest strength for Calipari has always been his ability to recruit, and once again, he has proven the kind of silver tongue that he owns. Kentucky is bringing in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation once again, with an insane amount of talent joining the team. Guys like D.J. Wagner, Justin Edwards, Rob Dillingham, and Aaron Bradshaw are all extremely talented, but they lack experience playing college ball. We have seen over and over again that young teams have a hard time once the NCAA Tournament begins. There are a few veterans here, but the team will mostly consist of younger players. Plus, the knock on Calipari for years is that his teams have issues facing non-conference opponents.
With all of this in mind, it brings me to one bet that I think could be valuable on them this season. Kentucky to win the SEC title is sitting at +500, and that is what I would target for them. While Calipari struggles against non-conference, he has had plenty of success in the SEC.
This conference really doesn't impress me, and the only team that is close to the Wildcats is Tennessee, in my opinion. I faded them constantly last season, and I probably will again. They just don't have the offense to really be a threat.
I don't believe Kentucky will be winning a national title with how little experience they have. Instead, I feel more comfortable backing them in conference play.