It’s never too early to look ahead, right?
On Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi decided to get ahead of the curve, releasing the first version of his Bracketology for the 2024 NCAA Tournament. While Kentucky’s offseason roster turnover is still in flux and next year’s team is hardly set in stone, Lunardi still has the Wildcats firmly in the projected tournament field for the 2023-24 season.
The bracket analyst slots Kentucky as a five-seed in the South (Dallas) Region with a first-round matchup in Spokane, WA against 12-seeded Stephen F. Austin. Defending champion UConn is a projected one-seed, as are Marquette, Michigan State, and Purdue. Eastern Kentucky comes in as a 14-seed.
Kentucky made the 2023 NCAA Tournament as a six-seed, losing in the Round of 32 to three-seeded Kansas State.
Lunardi’s seeding for Kentucky is quite the contrast to what he said just a few weeks ago. In mid-March, he had the Wildcats as a projected one-seed in the Midwest (Detroit) Region. But roster uncertainty appears to have shifted Lunardi’s thinking.
So far, Kentucky has already seen Sahvir Wheeler announce his intention to transfer while Cason Wallace and Jacob Toppin are headed to the NBA Draft. Decisions surrounding Oscar Tshiebwe and Ugonna Onyenso have gone back and forth over the last few weeks, with the current trend pointing toward a return to Lexington. The likes of Antonio Reeves (testing the draft waters), Chris Livingston, CJ Fredrick, and Daimion Collins all still have decisions to make.
Along with the incoming five-man freshman class, Kentucky has only received official confirmation that Brennan Canada will return. The expectation is that Lance Ware and Adou Thiero will also return, but there is clearly still work to be done in the offseason to craft next year’s roster. Earlier this month, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello ranked Kentucky No. 4 in his “Way-Too-Early” Top 25 rankings.
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