Coach: Matthew Mitchell, 174-91 overall (144-62 in six seasons at UK; 30-29 in two years at Morehead State)
Last season: 30-6 overall (13-3 and second in the SEC, conference tournament runner-up); lost in NCAA Tournament Elite Eight; final national rankings of No. 7 (Associated Press) and No. 8 (ESPN/USA Today)
What to watch: For the past few seasons, it feels like Kentucky has been knocking on the door, but hasn't been able to get in. In three of the past four years, UK advanced to the Elite Eight but stalled getting into the Final Four.
This could be the season if the Cats can stay healthy and focused on the end game, Mitchell said. Sure, UK loses the program's second all-time leading scorer and perhaps its most clutch performer in history in A'dia Mathies, but it also returns four starters and six other role players.
The senior-dominated team returns 76.5 percent of its scoring, 82.8 percent of its rebounding, 69 percent of its three-point shooting, 79 percent of its steals and 79 percent of its assists.
Add two freshmen McDonald's All-Americans to the mix, and the Cats' future looks pretty promising. The road may have gotten a little easier for UK to make it to the school's first Final Four, with likely first- and second-round games in Memorial Coliseum, where UK is 64-3 in the past four seasons.
But the Cats' least-complicated path to the Final Four would be as a No. 1 seed, which means no slip-ups against unranked opponents like in years past. Veteran leadership just might help UK get there this time.