2019-20 Final KenPom Ranking: 29
2020-21 Preseason KenPom ranking: 11
Preseason AP Poll: 10
The only difference I have on this rankings list in relation to my ranking and the KenPom ranking is between numbers one and two. Despite Wisconsin being higher on the KenPom, I have to go with Kentucky at the one spot. It is only right. It is also justified.
Kentucky is the same old Kentucky as they have been since Cal Calipari arrived at UK. They replace talent year in and year out with a ton of “one-and-done” prospects. This year, six more “diaper dandies” join the fold.
Kentucky returns just two (!!) scholarship players from the 2019-20 team in sophomore Keion Brooks Jr and redshirt freshman Dontaie Allen.
However, the most important addition may not even be one of the fabulous freshman. Look no further than Olivier Sarr, a 7′ center transfer from Wake Forest. In 2019, his junior season, Sarr put up 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for the Demon Deacons. Those are scary good numbers in the ACC.
In a matchup with Louisville in 2019, Sarr spotted himself 16 points and six rebounds before fouling out of the game with just 24 minutes logged. Sarr is one of the best big men in the country, bar none.
Sarr received a waiver from the NCAA to approve his eligibility to play in the 2020-21 season.
Kentucky also added notable Creighton transfer Davion Mintz who sat out the 2019-20 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Mintz averaged 9.7 points per game for Creighton as a junior. Mintz and Sarr are likely to be the only veteran contributors on the team.
In all, Kentucky signed six freshman in the 2020 class of whom none rank no lower than the 64th player in the country. Boston and Clark are ranked number 5 and number 8 overall nationally in the 2020 class.
It’s possible Kentucky plays some lineups in which there is not one player under 6’7″ on the floor for them. That’s a horrifying thought for any college basketball team to have to play against. But, with the dominant 7-footer in Sarr manning the paint, Kentucky could be pretty darn difficult to stop.
If a few of the freshmen live up to the hype, Louisville will have to pull out all of the stops to brace for Kentucky on December 26th. Any rivalry game brings a ton of energy and close games. But, this one is particularly challenging.
Louisville has only defeated Kentucky once in the past eight meetings. That, obviously, has not been a favorable ratio for the Cardinals. Fingers crossed that the Cards break the bad mojo in 2020.
Overall, the non-conference slate is a fair mix of Louisville being able to find chemistry and win some games while also throwing in a few heavy hitters like Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Seton Hall.
These non-conference games will be the first taste of Louisville basketball in over eight months. Let’s see what “Team 107” is made of.