Has Kentucky’s John Calipari Lost His Touch? Wildcats Drop Out of Top 25 for First Time Since 2014

The latest edition of the Associated Press Top 25 lacked one, traditional college basketball powerhouse.

The Kentucky Wildcats dropped out of the national rankings for the first time since 2014 after a week in which they lost to South Carolina and Florida.

“The Wildcats are likely still NCAA tournament bound, and have the ability to change the narrative with a hot stretch,” NCAA.com noted. But in his next breath, Joe Boozell tore a strip off John Calipari’s team. “Nothing stands out about this Kentucky squad,” Boozell wrote. “There are too many big men and not enough guards. There’s no obvious superstar.”

Kentucky is 14-5 on the season, good for fourth in the Southeastern Conference. Florida leads the SEC with the same record of wins and losses, but its 6-1 record in Conference play puts the Gators ahead of the 17-2 Auburn Tigers.

Auburn and Florida were almost inseparable in the AP’s Top 25 published on Monday, ranked 19th and 20th respectively. The top three teams in the nation remained in the same order. Villanova leads Virginia, followed by Purdue. Duke jumped from 5th to 4th while Kansas leapt from 10th to 5th.

The path ahead doesn’t get much easier anytime soon for the Wildcats, who face seventh-ranked Vest Virginia on Sunday after Tuesday night’s game against Mississippi State. “We’ll see what Calipari has in store, because at this point, he needs to try some new looks”, Boozell continued. That could include the return to fitness of Jarred Vanderbilt. The five-star recruit from the 2017 class has only appeared in two Wildcats games so far due to a foot injury, including the loss to South Carolina.

“There’s no pressure, really, just playing the game,” Vanderbilt told Kentucky.com on Monday. “That’s how I played my whole life. Just trying to bring what I can to the table, and really just enhance our team. Just start to get back to winning and playing Kentucky basketball.”

Expectations shouldn’t be too high for Vanderbilt until he’s played in a few full games at least. But for Calipari, who brought Kentucky its eighth and last NCAA Championship in 2012, the pressure is definitely on.