Kentucky's Final Four precedent

Kentucky lost to its rival, but the Wildcats still showed they can tangle with elite teams. Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

It was something of a tribute to John Calipari that he could lose all five starters from last season and still enter 2012-13 with his Kentucky team ranked No. 3 in the nation. Let's call that one extreme opinion regarding the Wildcats.

At the other extreme, of course, is the fact that UK was dropped from the rankings entirely after losing consecutive games at Notre Dame and at home against Baylor. At this writing the Wildcats are still unranked in the AP poll. (That won't last.)

In between these two extremes we find Kentucky as it is and perhaps as we should have regarded the Wildcats right from the beginning. Not as good as last season's team by any means, but very good and getting better.

My working assumption all along for this season's team has been that the proper standard of comparison is not the impossibly high precedent set last season by Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones and company, but rather the example presented by Kentucky two seasons ago. Jones was a freshman, Brandon Knight was the point guard and Josh Harrellson was a decidedly underrated big man.