January, February, Kentucky, April... A Look At How Things Are Shaping Up For The Cats
Photo Courtesy of College Football News
It has been a minute since I have been able to post my thoughts and frustrations on here! But now we're back and it couldn't be at a better time! It is officially March and that means Madness! And Kentucky Basketball hype is at an all time high. Kentucky seems to be playing well and gearing up for a big tournament run and today, we are gonna talk about just that.
After taking down Ole Miss on Tuesday the Cats seem poised, healthy, and ready to make a run toward the Final Four. But before they can do that, they have to get through Florida on Saturday then bus on over from Gainesville to Tampa to try to bring home another SEC Tournament title. This isn't going to be an easy task however. The top of the SEC is a murderers row of teams. I mean, Kentucky is a National Championship favorite, and they will probably be the 3 seed in the SEC.
Auburn will hold the 1 seed after being ranked in number one in the country for some time this year. The Tigers have seemed pretty vulnerable on the road though. All of their losses have come on the road along with games against bad teams that came down to the wire. The two seed will be decided on Saturday. UK, Tennessee, and Arkansas are all tied for second at 12-4 in SEC play and both UT and Arkansas hold the tiebreaker over Kentucky, but heres the thing. Tennessee and Arkansas play each other on Saturday, giving the loser one more loss in the conference, effectively putting them on the 4 seed line in Tampa. As long as Kentucky takes care of business on Saturday and beats Florida, expect the third seed in the SEC Tournament for UK.
One Seed Dreamin'
Now, looking at the bigger picture. While if the Cats had beat Arkansas last week, they would almost for sure be locked in as a one seed for the Big Dance. Alas, that did not pan out and all seemed lost for the Cats hopes of a one seed. There is good news though! Basically everyone else in the top 10 lost that day as well. As of right now Kansas is the final one seed according to Joe Lunardi, but with them losing today, that will likely knock them down. Auburn will more than likely replace Kansas. There is a world in which Kentucky and Auburn play in the SEC Championship and UK wins, and the selection committee decides to put Kentucky as the final one seed. The only other real options would be to keep Auburn there (which they may do), Duke (who has barely been a 3 seed most of the season), or Purdue (who hasn't been very consistent).
The Case For Kentucky
If you don't know, the committee doesn't use the AP Poll as a guide when selecting seeds. Rightfully so. That thing has been nothing short of an embarrassment this season. Any-who, that means, just because UK is number 7 right now, ultimately don't mean a thing. However, something they do use is KenPom and NET rankings, both of which favor the Cats. Basically any computer or analytic statistic measurement favors Kentucky. UK sits currently at number 4 overall in the NET ranking and if they can beat Auburn for the SEC title, that may be enough for the committee to give them the 1 seed. While that is wishful thinking, and not the most likely scenario, it is not completely off the table.
Realistically, Calipari and his crew are looking at a solid 2 seed. Which, if I'm being honest, is the same thing as a one seed to me and here is why. The only teams I want to avoid before the Final Four are Gonzaga, Duke, and Auburn. Gonzaga is too far west and the committee will almost certainly not make them Kentucky's one seed. Barring some crazy collapse of multiple teams and the committee doing Coach K one last favor, Duke will probably be a 2 seed like Kentucky so they won't be in our bracket either. Finally, if Auburn ends up as a one seed, there is a rule that won't allow the top two teams from a conference to be in the same bracket; or they are also a two seed so we wont get them either! That leaves Arizona, Baylor, Kansas or Purdue as the one seed in Kentucky's bracket depending on how things shake out the next two weeks. I don't know about you but not a single one of those teams scare me to play in the Elite Eight. So in all reality, a two seed is as good as a one seed for me.
There is still a lot of time between now and Selection Sunday and as we have seen already this year, things can change fast. But in my opinion, Kentucky has positioned themselves pretty well heading into March and as long as they stay healthy, I have full confidence in this team. Like Coach Cal says, "Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere."