John Calipari has always championed the SEC, even when the conference didn’t deserve it. With his team sitting at .500 in league play (7-7), Calipari told reporters this morning that he thinks the SEC is the strongest it’s ever been.
“This league has never been stronger. This is my 42nd year or whatever it is. This is the strongest by far this league has ever been.”
With four games left to go — three against likely NCAA Tournament teams in Arkansas, Missouri, and Florida — Kentucky is in control of its own destiny. Win three or four and the Cats could clinch a crucial double bye in the SEC Tournament; lose two or three and they might be on the bubble. With this team in this league right now, it really could go either way. Calipari said as much this morning.
“My team is getting better and that’s all I can ask. We’re trying to get a rhythm of how we’ve got to play. Kids are trying but there’s no break in the schedule. Eight or nine teams should get in the NCAA Tournament. When we beat each other, it should be good. It should be good for everybody. Because of how everybody’s playing, [there are] no easy wins.”
Another indicator of how good the SEC is this year? According to ESPN, Kentucky ranks second in strength of schedule right now behind, of all teams, Vanderbilt. That’s huge when it comes to their tournament resume, but as Calipari said, it may be another reason this team has struggled to gather momentum.
“We have the fifth — I’m going to guess the fifth, it may be higher, fourth or third — strength of schedule, with all freshmen. So, we throw everything at these kids.”
We’ll see if anything sticks tomorrow.