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NCAAB Predictions: Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky lost eight players off its 2021-22 roster, including two players selected in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft. However, the biggest news is Oscar Tshiebwe, the NCAA’s rebounding leader, opted to come back. Guard Sahvir Wheeler is also among the returning players. That dynamic duo is a major reason why Kentucky checks in at No. 3 in the BetUS ranking of the top 25 college basketball teams in the country.

John Calipari didn’t bring in any freshmen likely to go in the top five in the next NBA Draft. Freshmen Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston are expected to play significant roles.

Oscar Tshiebwe #34 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates a play with his teammates
Dylan Buell - Getty Images - AFP

In a conference with three teams ranked in the top 10 in the preseason poll, Kentucky is in the familiar position of being the team to beat in the SEC.

When looking at the college basketball playoff odds, Kentucky (+850) is tied with North Carolina and Gonzaga for the best odds to win the national title.

Kentucky came in at No. 4 in both the Associated Press and Coaches poll. The Wildcats picked up two first-place votes in the AP poll and three in the Coaches poll.

Kentucky was picked to win the SEC title ahead of fellow top-10 teams Arkansas and Tennessee.

Let’s check the latest NCAAB picks, stats, injury reports and NCAAB predictions. We’ve plenty of NCAAB expert picks for you to consider.

Kentucky Wildcats

  • 2021-22 record: 26-8
  • 2021-22 SEC Record: 14-4
  • Coach: John Calipari
  • Odds to win national title: +850

Tshiebwe was slowed by injury in the preseason but he could be available for the season opener or at least in the early portion of the season.

He averaged 17.4 points and 15.1 rebounds per game last season and was second in the country with 28 double-doubles. In Kentucky’s stunning loss to Saint Peter’s in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Tshiebwe finished with 30 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots. That obviously begs the question of whether he will get enough help this season for the Wildcats to make a run at a national title.

According to the college basketball betting lines, Tshiebwe (+650) trails only North Carolina’s Armando Bacot in the national player of the year odds.

Wheeler averaged 10.9 points and 6.9 assists per game while forwards Jacob Toppin (6.2 points) and forward Daimion Collins (2.9 points) are other returning players. Not including a loss to Louisiana State when he played just four minutes, Wheeler averaged 13.2 points and 7.2 assists in five games against ranked opponents during the regular season.

Kentucky added Antonio Reeves from Illinois State. He averaged 20.1 points per game and connected on 76 3-pointers as a junior. CJ Fredrick, a double-digit scorer as a freshman at Iowa before his playing time dipped a bit last season, is another newcomer.

Keion Brooks transferred to Washington while fellow double-digit scorers Tyty Washington and Kellan Grady headed off to the pros. That trio combined for 34.3 points per game. Reserves Bryce Hopkins, Zan Payne and Dontaie Allen transferred to Providence, Louisville and Western Kentucky.

Kentucky Wildcats Outlook

This is far from the deepest roster that Calipari has had at Kentucky, but with one of the best big men and point guards in the country leading the way, this is a team that could be in the national title picture.

Kentucky got to play against the select teams from the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas as part of the Big Blue Bahamas tour.

In an exhibition game against Missouri Western State, Toppin led the Wildcats with 20 points while Fredrick and Wallace added 15 points each. Wheeler, Toppin, Frederick, Reeves and Collins started for the Wildcats while every available player had at least 10 minutes of playing time.

Kentucky has a challenging non-conference schedule with games against Michigan State, Gonzaga, Michigan, Louisville, Yale and UCLA before SEC play begins. There will be a late January matchup with defending national champion Kansas as well.

Back-to-back road games against Alabama and Tennessee a week apart in January will not be easy while there could be plenty on the line in the regular-season finale at Arkansas.

Something to keep in mind for those who bet online, Kentucky was just 1-5-1 against the spread in the final seven games of the 2021-22 season.

2022-23 Kentucky Schedule

  • Season opener: vs Howard, Nov. 7th, 6:30 p.m. ET
  • SEC opener: at Missouri, Dec. 28th, 7 p.m. ET

Other Games to Watch

  • vs Michigan State (at Indianapolis), Nov. 15th, 7 p.m. ET
  • at Gonzaga, Nov. 20th, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • vs Michigan (at London), Dec. 4th, 1 p.m. ET
  • vs Yale, Dec. 10th, 1 p.m. ET
  • vs UCLA (at New York), Dec. 17th, 5:15 p.m. ET
  • vs Louisville, Dec. 31st, 12 noon ET
  • vs Louisiana State, Jan. 3rd, 8 p.m. ET
  • at Alabama, Jan. 7th, 1 p.m. ET
  • at Tennessee, Jan. 14th, 12 noon ET
  • vs Texas A&M, Jan. 21st, 2 p.m. ET
  • vs Kansas, Jan. 28th, 8 p.m. ET
  • vs Florida, Feb. 4th, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • vs Arkansas, Feb. 7th, 9 p.m. ET
  • vs Tennessee, Feb. 18th, 1 p.m. ET
  • at Florida, Feb. 22nd, 7 p.m. ET
  • vs Auburn, Feb. 24th, 4 p.m. ET
  • at Arkansas, Mar. 4th, 2 p.m. ET

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