Busting Brackets

SEC Basketball: Has the SEC Field Closed the Gap on the Kentucky Wildcats?


In a way, the dominance that the Kentucky Wildcats have had in the SEC under John Calipari is slightly exaggerated.

The way television has talked about the Wildcats under Calipari you would think that they have won the SEC every year since he took over for Billy Gillespie back in the 2009-10 season.

In reality he has won three regular season championships and three SEC Tournament titles in the six seasons that he has been in Lexington. That is horrible!

Sarcasm aside, the one thing that we can say is that Kentucky has been dominant when you consider that their last  four NCAA Tournament runs have resulted in Kentucky being in the Final Four.

Aside from the 2012-13 season where the Wildcats lost to Robert Morris in the First Round of the NIT, Kentucky has been in the National Semifinal (2011 & 2015) or the National Finals where they won it all in 2012 and lost to Connecticut in 2014.

Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky Wildcats /

Kentucky Wildcats

So when we are asking has the gap closed between the SEC field and the Kentucky Wildcats, we are really asking are any of the other programs on the verge of not only being dominant in the SEC, but are the other teams on the verge of consistently making deep NCAA Tournament runs.

We know that Kentucky is going to be an NCAA Tournament team again in the Spring as long as they stay healthy.

Another stellar recruiting class headlined by Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe, and Jamal Murray, that will mix existing talent like Marcus Lee, Tyler Ulis and Alex Poythress, should be tournament bound and highly ranked as their No. 2 ranking in the country indicates.

The only way for the SEC field to close the gap on the Kentucky Wildcats is to bring in top notch recruits to compete, threaten to win the SEC regular season and Tournament Titles, and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament regardless of the draw.

Let’s face it, even if the Wildcats are not a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, they are still a threat to win it all because the recruits they attract are programmed for tournament play.

AAU has these players brainwashed with the understanding that a loss in a major tournament means to go home.

So if you are in the SEC field, you need to bring in players that have the same mentality.

When you look at what happened during the recruiting period, only two other SEC teams were able to grab a Top 10 recruiting class.

The LSU Tigers nabbed Ben Simmons who is the best freshman in the land according to 247 Composite, Antonio Blakeney (No. 16/247 Composite)and Brandon Sampson (No.53 /247 Composite).

Johnny Jones is going to mesh those players with junior guard Tim Quarterman and senior guard Keith Hornsby to make a run at the Wildcats.

Jan 10, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies head coach Billy Kennedy during the first half against the Kentucky Wildcats at Reed Arena. The Wildcats defeated the Aggies 70-64 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Billy Kennedy is going to team Danuel House and Jaylen Jones up with the sixth ranked recruiting class in the land that brought in D.J. Hogg (No. 29 247 Composite), Tyler Davis (No. 31 247 Composite), Elijah Thomas (No.43 247 Composite), and Admon Gilder (No. 88/247 Composite).

Based on LSU’s and Texas A&M’s commitments during the recruiting period, and the mix of existing players they already had on the roster, those two clubs may be the only teams that have a shot at taking down Kentucky.

Outside of those two squads only Auburn, Mississippi State, and Florida have recruiting classes in the Top 25.

Out of these three teams, only Florida could be a seen as a team with a serious shot at being a Top Five SEC team.

The Gators are bringing back some solid talent in Dorian Finney-Smith and Devin Robinson, and KeVaughn Allen is a promising freshman recruit.

But no one is expecting them to threaten for the SEC crown or make a deep NCAA Tournament run with new coach Mike White getting acquainted with his new digs.

Do we really trust Vanderbilt to take the next step and be a serious threat to Kentucky. They can be considered Top 5 in the conference, but no one sees them being able to win the whole thing ahead of LSU and Texas A&M.

Damian Jones is a bonafiede NBA talent. Wade Baldwin IV and Riley LaChance are strong backcourt players, but no one sees them being a serious threat to win the SEC right? We don’t see the Commodores getting out of the first week of the NCAA Tournament do we? Maybe this is a situation where someone is sleeping on Vandy.

So in the end, the field has two teams outside of the Kentucky Wildcats that have a chance at taking the Regular Season or Tournament Championship, the LSU Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies. We are going to make it three just for kicks and add Vanderbilt just because they do have Damian Jones to matchup up in the middle with Skal Labissiere.

Live Feed

SEC Women’s Basketball: SEC Players in the WNBA Roundup, Post-Regular Season Edition
SEC Women’s Basketball: SEC Players in the WNBA Roundup, Post-Regular Season Edition /

South Bound & Down

  • SEC Basketball: Missouri, Kentucky among August 2023 recruiting winnersSouth Bound & Down
  • SEC Basketball: Ole Miss, Vanderbilt among July 2023 recruiting winnersSouth Bound & Down
  • SEC Women’s Basketball: SEC Players in the WNBA Roundup, All-Star EditionSouth Bound & Down
  • SEC Basketball: 5 biggest transfer portal winners of 2023 offseasonSouth Bound & Down
  • SEC Basketball: Kentucky, Alabama among June 2023 recruiting winnersSouth Bound & Down
  • LSU and Texas A&M  are built to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. There still seems to be something wrong with Vandy though they are going to be able to knock down a gang of treys, but they are not going deep in March.

    Other than that the rest of the field is still lagging in the background this season.

    We do need to keep in mind that there was some coach shuffling in the SEC going into this season with the aforementioned Mike White in Florida, Avery Johnson in Alabama, Rick Barnes at Tennessee, and Ben Howland at Mississippi State.

    But as far as this season is concerned, when you consider that only two teams out of a field of 13 really have a chance at winning the SEC, the gap has not closed on Kentucky.

    If anything, the field has to hope that the Kentucky Wildcats have come back to the pack this season. To be honest, the Wildcats may have come back to the pack, but they are still head and shoulders above the rest of the SEC.