Kentucky is the best team in the country. One coach in the coaches poll believes Duke is the #1 team. He’s wrong. One coach in the coaches poll believes Arizona is the #1 team. He should be fired by his institution.
Some are saying that Kentucky is the best team in the history of college basketball. That may be the case, but the hype has gone so far beyond out of control it’s laughable. This is purely based on probabilities and some of the numbers I’ve seen floated around.
So many times it has been said that “if Kentucky wins at Louisville, they’re going undefeated”. That very well may be the case. The real question is, what are the odds that happens? Given what the talking heads would like you to believe, Kentucky probably has a 90% chance or greater in their mind of going undefeated. If Kentucky beats Louisville, that real number is something like 46%, before the SEC tournament.
Let’s be clear. Having a 46% chance of going undefeated in a power conference is absurdly high. Kentucky’s rating is through the roof. I’ve never personally had a team with such a high rating since I’ve been doing rankings. I’m actually projecting Kentucky with a record of 30.26-0.74 heading into the SEC tournament, and they should be the #1 overall seed in March. Can they do it? Absolutely. Is it a lock? Not yet.
Kentucky is going to be a massive favorite in virtually every game. They might be a double digit favorite in every game. At Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are the only games I have them with less than a 90% chance of winning. And those games are in the mid-high 80s. At some point, Calipari may want to teach his kids a lesson and bench them for a half or something. But they can do it, and look out.
Currently, Kentucky is +120 to win it all, or a multiplier of 2.2. In probabilities, that’s also about a 45% chance of cutting the nets down. This is overboard. Again, Kentucky is clearly the best team in the country, but what is their true probability right now of winning it all? Let’s take a peek at the Crotistics Bracket.
Assuming all chalk, Kentucky could have a path that looks something like this:
New Mexico St.
That’s a very reasonable possibility. No disrespect to the SEC, but that’s a vastly different quality of opponent. What’s the probability Kentucky wins all 6 games on a neutral court against those 6 opponents? 24%
Now, they may have an easier path than that, but their true probability is somewhere in the mid-20s. Again, this is absurdly high. But it’s still unrealistic to think they’re basically 50/50 to win the thing.
It’s nothing against Kentucky, because they are a great team. But there are some other pretty good teams out there. Wisconsin just went to the final 4 last year. And Duke and Virginia look extremely good right now too. Kentucky will be favored against anyone they play, but if Kentucky plays Duke or Wisconsin 100 times, Kentucky is not going to beat them 100 times out of 100. It’s just a matter of who wins on the day they actually play.
Kentucky is well deserving of the high praise they’ve earned, but the hype is out of control.