By RICHARD CHEEKS
To my Big Blue brothers and sisters, smile, relax, and enjoy the ride that the Cats are going to deliver to you for the 2013-14 season. This ride has only just begun, and yes I realize that the young Cats did not beat Michigan State in their third college game, and third game in four days, but that was predictable, and was simply part of Maestro Calipari’s grand plan to bring this group along, and show them the learning curve that they must climb. And they are climbing it.
November 18, 10 days into this new season, the Cats have the second highest adjusted NGE in the land. The projections for the rest of the season indicate that the Cats are not likely to be an underdog in a single game left on the regular schedule (Pomeroy has the Cats underdogs to Florida by 2 points in the last game, but that will change). The Cats’ focus for the next 3 weeks is to continue to climb that slope ahead of them, focusing only on their mission, without regard to the circumstances at Chapel Hill, Louisville, East Lansing, Durham, or Lawrence. Each of those situations will take care of themselves in due course. The Cats’ only focus now must be climbing that learning curve.
One last time, these Cats are doing exactly as they should, and are probably further up that slope today than anyone should have reasonably expected. One day, the rest of the basketball world will wake up to this reality, and when it happens, the Big Blue Nation will hear the whispered, collective “Oh S&#!, Calipari has his team playing”
These games are not about the opponent that shows up, which for Tuesday, will be Texas Arlington. Texas Arlington has also played four games, and one of those games was against a non-D1 opponent. In their 3 games against D1 opposition, Arlington is 1-2. They have played at an average pace of 77 possessions, which this UK team will like very much, scoring 82.7 ppg (1.071 ppp) while giving up 91.3 ppg (1.176 ppp) against an early schedule strength of 0.5322 (#168). On Friday night, Arlington fell to future UK opponent Cleveland State by 10 at home, and in their opener, the previous Friday, Arlington fell to another future UK opponent, Boise State by 29 on the road. Arlington’s only win came at the expense of Samford by 13 at home.
Through their first four games, the Cats also bring a 3-1 record into Tuesday’s encountered with themselves when Arlington makes an appearance in Rupp Arena. The Cats’ early season schedule strength is 0.4491 (#214). A side-by-side statistical comparison shows:
Based on these team profiles, the NGE analysis projects a Kentucky win by 37 points, 99-62. Pomeroy has this game with a 27 point margin, 97-70.