The college basketball world has been surprised by John Calipari's move from Kentucky to Arkansas basketball. Calipari will stay in the SEC, after 15 years at Kentucky, to rebuild another program. Arkansas basketball fans are hoping for big things, while Kentucky fans are probably hoping that Calipari doesn't have too much success. Here are three way-too-early predictions to make about what will happen in Cal's first year in Fayetteville.

Calipari will keep the bulk of his recruiting class

John Calipari speaks during the off-day press conference in Memphis. The Cats will take on North Carolina in Memphis to advance to the Final Four.
© Michael Clevenger / Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Before leaving Kentucky, Calipari had secured commitments from six players in the ESPN Top 100 of the 2024 college basketball recruiting class. The players are: Boogie Fland, Jayden Quaintance, Billy Richmond, Travis Perry, Somto Cyril and Karter Knox. The players are a mix of guards and big men that Calipari felt could lead the team back to glory, after bowing in the first round of the NCAA tournament this year to Oakland.

With Calipari's departure, several of those players have de committed from the school including Quaintance, a five-star recruit. Calipari will be able to grab several of these players as they hit the transfer portal. He will take a bulk of them with him. At least four, but possibly all six players will end up following Calipari to Arkansas.

This is a bold prediction, but not too far-fetched. Calipari has already taken nearly his entire coaching staff with him to Arkansas, and many of those same coaches recruited those blue chip prospects to Kentucky. Calipari has a long history of coaching up one and done guys, and that won't change when Cal takes his talents to Fayetteville next season.

Arkansas wins a head-to-head against UK

A second bold prediction for next season is that Arkansas will defeat Kentucky in a head-to-head matchup. Kentucky basketball is now led by Mark Pope, who played for the school in the mid 90s. Pope was on a Kentucky basketball team that won the 1996 national championship, under Rick Pitino. He has been the head coach at BYU, leading the Cougars to the NCAA tournament this past season. Pope also spent some time coaching Utah Valley before that.

Pope is a good coach, but his work is cut out for him. Kentucky is already losing several of their recruits, but also several current players on the roster have decided they aren't staying. The Wildcats are losing Rob Dillingham and Aaron Bradshaw to the NBA Draft and transfer portal, per USA Today. Those are some heavy losses, and Pope must now work to convince the remaining Kentucky players to have faith in him. While Pope can certainly get wins at Kentucky, Calipari will have the easier short term path to success in a head-to-head matchup against his former team.

Arkansas will win an NCAA tournament game

One of the reasons Kentucky fans had become so frustrated with Calipari in recent years is because of his lack of success recently in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats won only one NCAA tournament game in Calipari's last four years in Lexington. Calipari will have to change that in Fayetteville, and he will in his first season.

The Razorbacks will not only go to the NCAA tournament in Cal's first year, but they will win a game in the NCAA tournament. The Razorbacks will make it to at least the Round of 32 in Calipari's first campaign, with a good chance to go to a Sweet 16. Calipari will get there on the backs of his recruiting class, transfer portal additions, but most importantly his renewed sense of vigor as a head coach.

Arkansas basketball is throwing in their lot with the veteran head coach, and are putting their money where their mouths are. Arkansas is expected to have up to $5 million in NIL money available to Calipari to build a roster for the upcoming season.

Time will tell if Calipari can recover his magic, but there are reasons to believe some good things will happen in Fayetteville this coming year.