We are less than 24 hours away from the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, and the BatCats are in a good position to make the field of 64. There have not been many stolen bids across the country as projected at-large teams won their conference tournaments. As we move closer to knowing the fate of UK, take a look at how the Cats’ resume compares to other bubble teams.
Record (Conference): 34-22 (13-18)
RPI and SOS: 32, 25
Record vs Top 25: 8-10
Record vs Top 26-100: 13-10
Record vs 101-200+: 13-2
The one factor that would keep UK out of the NCAA Tournament would be their lack of conference wins. Time will tell if the selection committee gives UK the benefit of the doubt because of their difficult conference schedule. The Cats have five wins against teams in the RPI top ten, including series wins against Georgia and Texas Tech. D1 Baseball’s Kendall Rogers said this morning that UK was in, but it will be close thanks to their conference record.
Record (Conference): 32-20 (18-12)
RPI and SOS: 47,47
Record vs Top 25: 2-2
Record vs Top 26-100: 11-11
Record vs 101-200+: 19-7
The Illini have several good wins outside of Big Ten play, but they lack that huge win over a highly-ranked opponent. Prior to the Big Ten Tournament, Illinois was one of the last five teams in D1 Baseball’s projected field. The Illini did not do too much to help their case as they went 2-2 in the tournament with a pair of wins against Indiana.
Record (Conference): 34-22, 14-16
RPI and SOS: 46,46
Record vs Top 25: 5-6
Record vs Top 26-100: 9-9
Record vs 101-200+: 20-7
The 2012 National Champions are on the bubble for 2018. Arizona took two of three from Oregon this weekend to save their season. A pair of series wins this season over Oregon State and UCLA helped to boost Arizona’s RPI to what it is today.
Record (Conference): 41-18 (19-11)
RPI and SOS: 37, 93
Record vs Top 25: 4-7
Record vs Top 26-100: 7-8
Record vs 101-200+: 30-3
The Trojans lost in the Sun Belt Tournament but should be safe in the field of 64. Troy has some good wins and the Sun Belt is a solid conference. I like the Trojans to get into the tournament as a three seed.
Record (Conference): 30-23 (20-10)
RPI and SOS: 63, 44
Record vs Top 25: 7-6
Record vs Top 26-100: 7-5
Record vs 101-200+: 16-12
If you had asked me last week if the Huskies were in, I probably would have said no. U-Dub took two of three against Stanford this weekend and were one win away from winning the PAC-12 outright. The RPI isn’t there, but the rest of their resume stacks up pretty well.
Record (Conference): 36-19 (20-8)
RPI and SOS: 35, 69
Record vs Top 25: 1-7
Record vs Top 26-100: 8-9
Record vs 101-200+: 27-3
Northeastern is in the same boat as UNC Greensboro, Troy, and many other teams that were upset in their conference tournament. Thanks to four losses in five games against UNC Wilmington in the regular season and SOCON tournament, Northeastern is back on the bubble.
Record (Conference): 35-21 (13-10)
RPI and SOS: 43, 36
Record vs Top 25: 6-10
Record vs Top 26-100: 16-9
Record vs 101-200+: 13-2
The Knights should try to claim the 2018 AAC Tournament Title since they didn’t actually win that either. UCF went 0-2 in their conference tournament and dropped to the bubble. The RPI and SOS will help UCF, but ten conference losses hurts their resume.
We will know who is in and who is out this time tomorrow. Tune in at noon ET on ESPNU tomorrow for the Selection Show.
By Trey Huntsman on ©May 26th, 2018 @ 3:30pm
Kentucky finds themselves scoreboard watching this weekend after losing in the SEC Tournament on Tuesday. The Cats (34-22, 13-18) are sweating out the long week leading up to Monday’s Selection Show after a disappointing end to their season. UK is projected as one of the last teams into the field of 64, but a little scoreboard watching can never hurt. With the Cats on the bubble, here are five teams that need to lose to help the Cats’ chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona: There will be plenty of UK fans watching late night games out west. In this game, the BatCats need Oregon to upset Arizona (33-22, RPI:50) and win the series. Not finishing .500 or better in the PAC-12 will hurt the Wildcats, as well as SEVEN losses to teams outside the RPI top 100. Arizona is most likely out of the tournament, but definitely keep an eye on what happens in Eugene tonight.
Washington: Coming into the weekend, the Huskies (30-22, RPI:60) were firmly on the bubble. They have since turned the tables and are now in a position to win the PAC-12 after taking the first two games of their series against the #3 Cardinal. It is believed that U-Dub is safe even if they were to lose today.
North Florida: The Atlantic Sun will get two teams in with Jacksonville and #13 Stetson. The North Florida Osprey knocked off Jacksonville yesterday and will need to beat Stetson twice today to give the conference three teams in the NCAA Tournament. UNF won’t get into the field of 64 without winning the A-Sun Tournament, so all bubble teams need the Osprey to lose to ensure the A-Sun stays a two-bid league.
Pittsburgh: Yep, UK fans need to root for Louisville today in the ACC Tournament against Pitt. The Panthers have to win the tournament to get into the field of 64 after barely finishing over .500 this season. Pitt has gotten hot in their conference tournament and now stand two wins away from clinching the automatic bid for the ACC. The Panthers would be a huge bid stealer if they beat Louisville today and win Sunday’s title game. It would be perfect if Louisville could win today against Pitt and then get beat tomorrow to keep them from hosting a regional.
Bradley: The Missouri Valley is a lot like the A-Sun. The conference has two teams (Dallas Baptist, Missouri State) that would get in as at-large teams, but Bradley is still alive in the MVC Tournament as a potential bid stealer. The Braves play DBU this afternoon for the right to play MSU later tonight.
Other teams of that need to lose to help UK reach the NCAA Tournament: West Virginia, TCU, Illinois, Purdue, Texas State.
For updates on college baseball across the country, follow @TreyHuntsmanKSR.
UK may be playing the political game here but the Bat Cats’ Twitter account tweeted yesterday that Kentucky’s pitching staff will be (mostly) at full strength for the NCAA Tournament next week.
Of course UK would have to make the NCAA Tournament for those pitchers to have a chance to compete.
Currently the Bat Cats are firmly on the bubble and some publications have UK baseball making the field of 64, and some have UK missing the tournament, which would be a crushing blow to a team that had such lofty expectations.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) May 24, 2018
Kentucky is referring to the health of Chris Machamer, Justin Lewis, Carson Coleman and Zach Haake, all of which have missed time. You mix those four with the healthy pitching staff, led by Sean Hjelle, and the Cats’ biggest weakness doesn’t look so bad.
But blue just needs to get in the field. A month ago we were talking about UK hosting a regional and what the Bat Cats would need to do to be a national seed. Now UK will just be waiting to hear its name called on Monday.
So far other bubble teams haven’t had a great conference championship week, which is good for UK.
Kentucky Sports Radio baseball beat writer Trey Huntsman had a wild prediction.
Louisville is going to wind up hosting and Kentucky will be the three seed. Write it down. https://t.co/aVJUydc3H4
— Trey Huntsman (@TreyHuntsmanKSR) May 25, 2018
By now you’ve probably heard that Rupp Arena will reduce its total capacity by replacing over half of the upper-level bleacher seating with chairs. It’s the hottest topic going right now and who better to add to the discussion than UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart and head basketball coach John Calipari.
Barhart released a statement saying, “Rupp Arena has long been hallowed ground, home to the greatest tradition in college basketball and the best fans in the world. We are in the midst of an effort to make one of the most special venues in all of sports even better with chair-back seating in the upper level and new club areas, answering feedback we have heard often from our fans. We are excited share preliminary details about these upgrades and look forward to providing more information as we move forward.”
John Calipari took to Twitter to say, “I think our fans are really going to enjoy these upgrades. Rupp Arena has long been the gold standard in college basketball and this is another step in making sure it stays that way. I may even make my way to the upper level and try out the new chair-backs. LOL.”
I think our fans are really going to enjoy these upgrades. @Rupp_Arena has long been the gold standard in college basketball and this is another step in making sure it stays that way. I may even make my way to the upper level and try out the new chair-backs. LOL. https://t.co/gV9NPvILEh
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 25, 2018
By Trey Huntsman on ©May 23rd, 2018 @ 4:30pm
Two weeks ago, Kentucky was preparing to host a regional for the second consecutive season. But four consecutive losses to end their season have dropped the BatCats to the bubble. The biggest of those four losses came in the first round of the SEC Tournament to Auburn. By losing the first game of the tournament, UK no longer controls their own destiny. The Cats will head home and hope that their total body of work gets them into the field of 64.
UK’s recent losses have given the selection committee a difficult decision. On one hand, the Cats have five wins against the RPI top five, including a road series win over Georgia and a series win over Texas Tech at home. The Cats have 16 wins against teams ranked in the top 50 in RPI. The strength of schedule is there as well as an impressive 21-4 record outside of the SEC. The factor that will play against UK is their 13-18 conference record.
When talking about teams that were penalized for poor conference records, it is impossible not to mention the 2016 North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC finished in the top 20 in RPI and recorded a 34-21 record over the course of the season. The Tar Heels fell short of the NCAA Tournament after finishing with a 13-17 record in the ACC. The 2018 UK team has an eerily similar resume as the 2016 UNC team. If the selection committee looks at UNC as a precedent, the Cats could find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble thanks to their conference record.
In the eyes of UK’s head coach, the Cats should not be penalized because the SEC was so strong this season. In an impassioned speech following his team’s loss to Auburn, Mingione said that “I don’t believe anyone in our league should be punished for how good it is. I think our RPI speaks for itself and then our wins that we’ve been able to accomplish speak for itself.”
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) May 23, 2018
Mingione is not wrong. The SEC was a bloodbath in 2018. Only five teams finished with a record above .500 in SEC play this season. 2018 was one of the toughest, most-talented years in the SEC. The level of talent from top to bottom in the conference could aid UK’s case. There was not a conference close to the SEC in talent this season, and UK did win three series against teams in the top seven in the league.
By losing to Auburn, UK lost the chance to even out their conference record in the SEC Tournament. The Cats failed to help their case in their conference tournament, so they now will rely on other teams losing across the country. Some notable teams to keep an eye on this week are Washington, Illinois, Louisiana Tech, and any potential bid stealers in the OVC, Southland, American, or Conference USA. Of the aforementioned bubble teams, UK’s resume blows them all away. There aren’t many strong bubble teams this season. UK’s total body of work is miles ahead of every team that is on the bubble right now. In fact, UK is one of two teams ranked in the top 25 in RPI that is not a one or two seed in D1 Baseball’s latest projections.
This is a new position for this group. One year ago, the Cats were playing for a national seed and preparing to host the school’s first regional since 2006. The last week of the season has put UK in a position that they will have to scoreboard watch and pray they make the cut over the remaining bubble teams. If the selection committee looks at the Cats’ season as a whole and compares it to other potential at-large teams in the country, UK should land in the field of 64. But the 13-18 SEC record hangs over the team’s head like a dark cloud.
The BBN will anxiously wait until next Monday to know the fate of the BatCats. The Selection Show will be broadcast at noon ET on ESPNU.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 23rd, 2018 @ 11:00am
Kentucky lost its opening round game in the SEC tournament on Tuesday. The 10-seed Cats took Auburn to extra innings behind the arm of Sean Hjelle, but lost in the 11th inning, 4-3.
A lot of fans point to injuries for the reason behind the early exit and behind the disappointing close to the regular season — and injuries did play a big role. Others have said the team never really looked in sync throughout the year, which may also be a factor. Hitting slumps came at bad times, too.
But I know the real reason why Kentucky was eliminated from the SEC (and maybe the NCAA) tournament on Tuesday: Coach Mingione did not call in to Kentucky Sports Radio on Motivation Monday.
Motivation Monday has been vital to KSR since Mingione began making his weekly appearances last year. His pep talks have gotten all of our weeks off to a great start and inspired us to be better in our daily lives. But this past Monday, the phone never rang. We were left without Mingione’s uplifting words to fuel us for what was ahead. We were lost. I didn’t know if I should be a sink or a drain. Ryan forgot to take his thank you walk. Matt fed his negative dog and his positive dog starved to death. And it clearly impacted Mingione and his Wildcats down in Hoover as well.
Next week Kentucky will learn its NCAA fate in the NCAA Selection Show on Monday at noon. I’m sure Mingione will be a very busy man that morning, but we need a call to get our mojo back.
“Losers never have time. Winners make time.” – Nick Mingione
There are multiple stages in the NBA Draft process. You know the official ones: draft declaration, NBA combine, then private workouts. Those provide some insight into a prospect’s decision, but not like the step of the process we just entered: Ambiguous Social Media SZN.
All it takes is one emoji to send the fanbase into a frenzy, and it started last night on P.J. Washington’s Instagram.
But wait, there’s more!
One sarcastic comment from UK’s strength coach and our pets’ heads are falling off. The only thing that’s better than one ambiguous Instagram post, is TWO ambiguous Instagram posts.
I love it. Give me more silly speculation, all day, everyday until the draft deadline arrives one week from today.
UK Baseball Falls in SEC Tournament
The Bat Cats’ ninth-inning rally was not enough to get a win at the SEC Tournament. Kentucky was eliminated by Auburn 4-3 in 11 innings. Health in the bullpen has been a problem, but yesterday it was all at the plate. UK was 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left ten base-runners stranded.
Does the loss end UK’s season? The Bat Cats are on the bubble — earlier this week D-1 Baseball said UK was one of the last five in the field — but with a Top 25 RPI, it will be hard to keep them out of the NCAA Tournament.
BW-3s Wins the KSR Food Bracket
Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion could not overcome B-Dubs’ saucy press. Buffalo Wild Wings’ coronation is complete as the 2018 KSR Food Bracket Champions. They celebrated by cutting the nets to One Shining Moment.
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) May 23, 2018
The Rockets make it a Series
The Houston Rockets are not done. The NBA team with the best regular season record proved their worth in game four last night, upending the defending champion Golden State Warriors 95-92. Maybe a Golden State repeat is not a foregone conclusion?
The 2-2 Eastern Conference Finals return tonight with an extremely important game five. Boston will host Cleveland at 8:30 on ESPN.
Tonight we will find out if it actually is the Caps’ Year. They will be in Tampa Bay for Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at 8:00 on NBCSN. A day after PFT Commenter was doxed by Deadspin, the Caps owe their biggest fan a Stanley Cup-clinching W.
And you thought you were good at ping-pong.
Most impressive thing you'll see today. ? pic.twitter.com/tMn2sq4NO7
— Whistle Sports (@WhistleSports) May 21, 2018
By Trey Huntsman on ©May 22nd, 2018 @ 7:24pm
The BatCats will have to go back to Lexington and await their fate for the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky (34-22, 13-18) lost 4-3 in 11 innings to #21 Auburn (38-19, 16-15) in the first round of the SEC Tournament. UK is now 0-4 all-time against Auburn in the SEC Tournament.
D1 Baseball had UK as one of their last five teams in the NCAA Tournament entering today. UK had the opportunities to help their case for reaching the postseason but struggled with runners in scoring position. The Cats hit 4/20 with runners on base and left ten men on in their 18th conference loss of the season. Sean Hjelle gave his team all he had, going 7.1 innings in a losing effort. Kole Cottam delivered two huge RBIs, including the game-tying knock in the ninth inning. But the amount of missed opportunities hurt UK late in extra innings. Auburn capitalized with runners in scoring position in the 11th when Edouard Julien hit a walk-off single to send the BatCats home.
Cottam did what he could to put UK into the field of 64 today. The junior first baseman hit a solo home run in the top of the first to put UK ahead 1-0. Cottam went collected three hits today, including his SEC-leading 18th home run. The 1-0 lead was short-lived. Former UK-commit Will Holland led off the bottom of the first with his 11th home run of the year to tie the game at one.
UK starter Daniel Harper did a good job of settling down after the home run, but his second trip through the lineup would cause him problems. Four straight batters reached base with one out in the inning as Auburn jumped in front. Steven Williams and Brett Wright drove in runs against Harper to give Auburn a 3-1 lead. Nick Mingione went to his bullpen for his ace starter Sean Hjelle with two outs in the third. Hjelle struck out Brendan Venter to end the third inning.
Hjelle would empty the tank on the mound today. Just five days removed from throwing 123 pitches at Vanderbilt, Hjelle threw 7.1 shutout innings in relief in the must-win opener. The Tigers had no answer for the 2017 SEC Pitcher of the Year. Hjelle struck out nine batters and allowed only four hits in his first relief appearance of the season.
The Cats got an electric outing from Hjelle in relief, but they struggled to back him up at the plate. Before the ninth inning, UK hit 1/10 with runners in scoring position in the first eight innings.
Despite the rest of the lineup struggling with runners on base, Cottam delivered. The UK first baseman collected the biggest hit of the Cats’ season with two outs in the ninth. After Ryan Shinn doubled to start the inning, pinch runner Alex Rodriguez was bunted to third with the top of the order due up. Cottam hit a two-strike, two-out pitch into the game for a double to tie the game at three.
The tenth inning brought more scoring opportunities for UK’s offense. Luke Heyer led off the inning with a single and moved into scoring position with one out. Cody Greenhill retired the next two UK batters with ease as UK failed to deliver with runners on once again.
Hjelle officially emptied the tank after the tenth inning when he retired Holland on a long fly ball to left. Just five days after throwing 123 pitches against Vanderbilt, Hjelle threw 118 in relief today. Hjelle exited after the tenth inning and gave way to fellow starter Zack Thompson. The sophomore flamethrower struggled to find the zone in the 11th and put two men on with one out. Julien sent the huge Auburn crowd home happy with an RBI single to centerfield to win the game 4-3.
Auburn’s walk-off came two months after UK walked off against the Tigers in Auburn. Today’s loss will put the Cats on the bubble with no way to help their case. UK will play the watching game until next Monday.
Get on over to the SEC Network for Kentucky’s opening game of the SEC Tournament against those pesky Tigers from Auburn.
Things got off to a nice start with a first-inning bomb from Kole Cottam to put the Cats up early.