Loser: Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky comes into the 2023-24 college basketball season ranked 16th. Among SEC schools, that's fourth-best behind Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas A&M.
The shine has come off of head coach John Calipari. Long thought to be the torch-bearer of college basketball, Coach Cal has lost his luster. That's not to say that he's not a good coach, but the Cats have endured too many postseason failures in recent memory to be among the elites in college basketball.
Now let's not overreact and claim that Coach Cal's on the hot seat. Heck, even with locals in Lexington getting restless, Calipari's seat isn't even lukewarm. UK's head coach was able to secure the top recruiting in college basketball this season, so Coach Call still has the chops when it comes to securing top talent.
Unfortunately, one of UK's top recruits will be out to begin the season. It's not yet known if or when Aaron Bradshaw will return to the court, but without Bradshaw and Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky's frontcourt looks a bit thin.
The Wildcats do return Austin Reeves, plus potential lottery picks in D.J. Wagner and Justin Edwards. Kentucky's schedule is very soft to begin the season, so there's every reason to believe the Cats can leapfrog some teams and break into the Top 10.
After several years of being the hunted, John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats have become the hunters. Perhaps that's a role that will fit this year's UK team quite nicely.