Making predictions is a sucker's game because reality can always make you look like a fool. It was only on Tuesday that I said that the SEC was looking like a three-team race between Kentucky, LSU, and South Carolina. That very evening, the Gamecocks went and lost to Missouri.
LSU dropped its game the next day to Alabama, but the Tide is a pretty good team and not dead last in the conference standings like Mizzou is. That result was forgivable, but when combined with Kentucky's 80-70 win over Tennessee last night, it means the Wildcats now stand alone on top of the SEC.
UK is the highest SEC team in the KenPom ratings at ninth, well ahead of the next highest team, Texas A&M at No. 22. They're a game up in the standings over LSU, and though they've lost to the Tigers already, they can even up that series at home on March 5. They own the tiebreaker over South Carolina, and they can secure the tiebreaker over A&M tomorrow. They have a contender for SEC Player of the Year in Tyler Ulis, and Jamal Murray has scored more than 20 points in five straight games. And after being unable to sustain momentum without lapses, they've now won four consecutive games for the first time since November.
With all of that going for the 'Cats, are you ready to buy them as regular season champions?
There is a case against them too. Three of the four games of the current streak were at home, and the road win was over a South Carolina team that A) had just played A&M and LSU in the games leading up to Kentucky, and B) is inconsistent enough to have just lost to Missouri. Though UK is a perfect 15-0 at home and a nice 2-1 in neutral site games, the 'Cats are just 3-5 on the road with bad losses to Tennessee and Auburn in there.
Looking at the schedule, three of UK's five remaining games are on the road. None of them are against bad teams, as they come against Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and Florida. Three of the games—Alabama, at Vandy, and LSU—are against bubble teams that desperately need the kind of resume defining win that, thanks to the way the schedule worked out for those teams and A&M's recent slide, only Kentucky can provide. SEC teams already tend to give UK their best shot, but those teams need a big win badly.
Kentucky is the best team in the SEC. It should win the regular season title and get the 1-seed in the SEC Tournament. Things in college basketball don't always work the way they should, though, and UK could easily fall back into a tie for first this weekend with them traveling to A&M and LSU playing Tennessee.
So again I ask: do you trust Kentucky to win the SEC?