By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer
In case you hadn’t heard high school basketball phenom Marvin Bagley III committed to the Duke Blue Devils Basketball team. He also reclassified from the 2018 to the 2017 class so he would be playing this year. That news immediately vaulted Duke to the preseason No.1 spot in the polls.
What does it mean for Duke and also what does it mean for Kentucky? Let’s look.
For Duke it means that they will be preseason No.1 heading into the season and the favorite to win the National Title. How has that situation worked out for Duke in the past? Since 1985 – when the NCAA Tournament expanded – Duke has been preseason No.1 seven times. Those teams have won one National Championship during those seven seasons. Three of the seven times they made the Final Four. Not such an impressive record.
Kentucky has been preseason No.1 three times since 1985. UK has a National Title in 1996, a Runner-Up in 2014 and a Final Four in 2015. Pretty effective finishes for the teams that were preseason No.1 at Kentucky.
With all that being said it looks like being Preseason No.1 is generally a great honor but for the Duke Blue Devils maybe not so much. If you only make it to the Final Four less than fifty per cent of the time when you are ranked as preseason No.1 it might be better to have Bagley go somewhere else and take your chances ranked as the No.2 team. Either way – borrowing from our horse racing heritage – I like UK’s chances coming from off the pace and finishing at the wire.