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Kentucky would likely still be No. 1 with Ohio State's schedule

Where would Kentucky be ranked if it had played Ohio State's schedule to date?

I started thinking about this question during Sunday's flight home from Chapel Hill, where I spent Saturday watching the Wildcats drop to 8-3 with an 82-77 loss at North Carolina. They looked sloppy in that game, like a roster of players with different agendas. It was an ugly nationally televised performance that created a scenario where people have been asking whether I think UK will still be ranked when the AP and coaches polls update Monday.

My answer: Of course Kentucky will still be ranked Monday. As it should.

Like I wrote Saturday night, Kentucky has indeed been disappointing ... but it's all relative to preseason expectations. The Wildcats aren't as good as most thought they'd be, obviously. But they're still good and good enough to be ranked, and don't let those three losses convince you otherwise. In an ideal Big Blue world, sure, Kentucky would have zero losses. So this 8-3 record isn't great. But it should be noted that A) Kentucky's three losses came to the schools currently ranked No. 6 (Michigan State), No. 7 (Baylor) and No. 16 (North Carolina) here, B) all three of Kentucky's losses were by single-digits, C) none of Kentucky's losses were at Rupp Arena, and D) Kentucky is still rated 11th at KenPom.com with an offense that ranks fifth nationally in terms of efficiency. In other words, like I wrote Saturday night, there's nothing too embarrassing about Kentucky's resume right now even if Kentucky's resume isn't what most expected it to be at this point.

Which brings me back to my initial question.

Where would Kentucky be ranked if it had played Ohio State's schedule to date?

Here's Ohio State's schedule to date:

  • Morgan State (Home)
  • Ohio (Home)
  • Marquette (Road)
  • American (Home)
  • Wyoming (Home)
  • North Florida (Home)
  • Maryland (Home)
  • Central Connecticut (Home)
  • Bryant (Home)
  • North Dakota State (Home)

Let UK spend the first five weeks of the season playing that schedule, and my guess is the Wildcats would be undefeated right now and still ranked No. 1, and isn't that kinda wild to consider? It doesn't mean Kentucky would actually be any better as a team than it is at this moment. But the perception of the Wildcats would be drastically different. That's my point. And that's my only point -- that UK's struggles are at least somewhat schedule-induced.

By the way ...

Lots of you have asked over the past 12 hours via Twitter how I could rank Ohio State second, ahead of both Syrause and Wisconsin, after spending this space "ripping" OSU's schedule. My answer: The point here isn't to "rip" OSU's schedue as much as it's to simply show that the perception of Kentucky would, again, be drastically different with OSU's schedule. Nothing more. Nothing less. As for Ohio State and its ranking, I guess I'd say this: The Buckeyes started higher in the Top 25 (and one) than both Syracuse and Wisconsin, and they've done nothing to date to prove they're not better than Syracuse and Wisconsin. Granted, Syracuse and Wisconsin have better resumes; nobody is denying that. But Ohio State is 10-0 with 10 double-digit wins; the Buckeyes have been impressive. So why is Ohio State No. 2 with a 10-0 record against this schedule, you ask? For the same reason I just explained that Kentucky would be No. 1 with a 10-0 record against that same schedule, i.e., because I believed Ohio State would be really good in the preseason, and, to date, Ohio State has done nothing to suggest otherwise even if the schedule hasn't been all that challenging.

Anyway ...

The Top 25 (and one) updates every morning and also on Sunday nights.

Here's the latest version:

(Click this link to view each team's previous ranking, recent results, future schedule, etc.)

  1. Arizona (11-0)
  2. Ohio State (10-0)
  3. Syracuse (10-0)
  4. Wisconsin (12-0)
  5. Villanova (10-0)
  6. Michigan State (8-1)
  7. Baylor (8-1)
  8. Memphis (7-1)
  9. Oklahoma State (9-1)
  10. Louisville (9-1)
  11. Connecticut (9-0)
  12. Florida (7-2)
  13. Colorado (10-1)
  14. Kansas (7-3)
  15. Duke (7-2)
  16. North Carolina (7-2)
  17. Oregon (9-0)
  18. Iowa State (8-0)
  19. Wichita State (10-0)
  20. UMass (9-0)
  21. Kentucky (8-3)
  22. Gonzaga (10-1)
  23. San Diego State (7-1)
  24. Iowa (10-2)
  25. Missouri (10-0)
  26. UCLA (9-1)

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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