On September 27th, 2012, ESPN's Andy Katz wrote a short blog post about college hoops. Here is the quote about the Kentucky Wildcats' Final Four chances compared to the Kansas Jayhawks' shot:
"KU isn't getting the early-season love -- but Kansas has more experience returning than Kentucky and probably has a better preseason chance of getting back to the Final Four."
Is Andy Katz a hater? Not likely.
The key phrase in the post from Katz is "a better preseason chance." While Big Blue Nation feels strongly about how good this team will be, the rest of the country is going to require proof. Katz isn't slighting Kentucky. It would be difficult for a national writer to say anything else about the Cats.
Katz would have to be crazy to put a team led by almost all freshmen in the Final Four this early. Last year's team had a very good senior (Darius Miller) and two great sophomores (Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb). This year's team has very little experience which could keep them from getting to the Final Four.
The young Cats are not entirely without experienced players, though. Wright State transfer Julius Mays has three years under his belt - two at NC State and one at Wright State. Mays scored 14.1 points per game with the Raiders last season. They have another transfer in Ryan Harrow who played a year at NC State and spent a year practicing with Kentucky's players - many of whom are now in the NBA. Then there is Kyle Wiltjer who was a key player on last year's title team. Finally, Jon Hood could be a spark off the bench.
These guys will all be significant contributors on the team.
One thing about John Calipari's teams is that they show a lot of progress as the season goes. I expect the same from this team and would not rule out a Final Four.