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Best/Worst Case Scenarios Going Forward


With the NCAA Tournament Selection Show just three days away, feelings around the Bluegrass are beginning to shift.  While portions of Bowling Green and Louisville can breathe easy due to the secure state of their teams, the remaining population of Kentucky must hold their breath for the SEC Tournament. Tournament status has been questionable for Kentucky all season long, but a much needed victory over Florida last Saturday did wonders for the Cats’ resume, however, work remains to be done. At this critical point in the season, wins are not only necessary to boost tournament seeding, but also to assure a tournament spot. For John Calipari and his band of players, the focus is certainly on the “one-game-at-a-time” mindset, but as fans, we’re allowed to speculate about the future.

Late last night, our own Tyler Thompson laid out some SEC Tournament outcomes for Kentucky and suggested what kind of implications those situations could bring about. This was a fascinating subject to me for a number of reasons, but mainly because of what these outcomes could mean for UK’s NCAA hopes. Given this, I’ve laid out some highly hypothetical situations which could arise if Kentucky were to go either 0-1, 1-1, 2-1, or 3-0 during the SEC’s annual showcase.

sad archie


Best Case: It’s difficult to find a positive that would arise out of this situation. After all, we’re a bubble team that needs another win to boost our profile. However, a close loss to Arkansas wouldn’t be the worst possible thing to happen in an 0-1 situation (a loss to 14-16 Vanderbilt would be, though). For Kentucky to make the tournament in this instance, many other bubble teams across the country would have to turn in awful performances early in their conference tournaments. If this arose, the Cats would be fortunate to be a 12-seed in the play-in game.

Worst Case: A loss to 14-16 Vanderbilt would effectively end Kentucky’s quest for an NCAA Tournament bid.  Arkansas and Vanderbilt may be similar in scoring margin type rating systems, but in the eyes of the Tournament committee, losing to the Commodores would squash all hope of a tournament bid.  The RPI may not be a very effective rating system, but unfortunately, Kentucky must boost that in order to feel secure. A loss to Vanderbilt would damage that rating beyond repair.



Best Case: In this situation, Kentucky would be virtually assured a Tournament bid. A win over Arkansas would propel our record to 22-10, which is among the best of bubble teams.  In the next round, a close loss to Missouri wouldn’t be the end of the world as they are a tournament team with a solid RPI.  Also, if Kentucky were to play Missouri, that would mean current bubble team, Ole Miss, had been all but eliminated from the NCAA field. It’d be difficult to predict a seed in this situation, but it’d likely be a 12-seed.

Worst Case: A win over Vanderbilt paired with a loss to Andy Kennedy’s Ole Miss Rebels would be far from ideal in this situation.  Not only would Kentucky have a relatively weak first round win, but a loss to current bubble hopeful, Ole Miss, would be detrimental in our NCAA hopes. This, alongside other bubble teams performing well, would be worrisome in the quest for a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.



Best Case: You’d be safe in assuming that with two wins, regardless of opponent, Kentucky is safely in the tournament field. As correctly suggested by Tyler last night, we would be talking about seeding at this point. In this instance, Kentucky would most likely be bumped up from a 12-seed to an 11-seed.  In my mind, this is absolutely ideal as it would give the Cats hope of advancing in the tournament.  Some current 6-seed projections by various Bracketologists include Butler, Colorado State, and Creighton. In predictive rating systems, most teams in this instance would be similarly rated to Kentucky and have fatal flaws that can be exploited.

Worst Case: It’s difficult envisioning a worst case scenario in this instance. First, Kentucky would be safely in the field, second, we’d likely receive a decent seed (relative to the season).  However, the worst case scenario in this circumstance would be getting matched up with a tough team in the first round of the tournament. A squad with tenacious guard play like VCU, or a team with a solid post presence like Oklahoma State could present serious problems for the Cats.  Though these teams would likely be favored, Kentucky would have a legitimate shot of pulling an upset.



Best Case: Naturally, this is the ideal scenario for Kentucky entering the NCAA Tournament. Three straight wins over (most likely) strong competition would boost our seeding in ways that were unimaginable just one week ago.  This outcome could potentially earn Kentucky a 10-seed for next week’s madness. While this would give Kentucky a very winnable first second round game, it would most likely set up a second third round contest with a 2-seed.

Worst Case: (I really felt ridiculous writing this last paragraph as a conference title could never be negative.) Winning an SEC Championship after a tumultuous season would in no way be a “worst case” scenario. However, a perceived “screw job” by the seeding committee would qualify as that. Much like 2011’s conference championship squad, Kentucky may be placed in the most difficult region, inspiring many to think the season is all but over. Maybe the Cats earn a 10-seed, only to be placed with a 2-seed who was a borderline 1-seed.  However, I feel as though most fans would relish the opportunity of potentially beating a squad like Indiana.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

16 Comments for Best/Worst Case Scenarios Going Forward

  1. tdogg40330
    8:11 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    I want the mouthy Tom Crean and his bunch of scrubs ….

  2. Bear
    8:18 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Looks like we will have vandy tomorrow night and should be able to win at least 2 games

  3. reddoln
    8:30 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    I think with Uk’s ooc and rpi, they would do better than a #10 seed if they win it all. Big if, however…………

  4. Ridge Runner
    8:30 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    2…Umm dang. I understand probables and all but it’s only half time.

  5. Do What?
    8:45 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    How anyone can look past the next game is beyond me. This is not safe even with seconds to go and a 20 point lead. Win before looking anywhere.

  6. Burr
    8:45 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    If we can’t beat a bad vandy team on a neutral floor, we don’t deserve a tournament bid.

  7. Ummmm
    8:47 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    These projections are way pessimistic. Understanding that we are
    very unlikely to win the tourney, but if we do we are probably a 6 or 7 seed. We’d be 25-10 with, probably, 2 wins against Missouri and 2 against Florida. That is not a 10 seed. One win = 10/11 seed, 2 will mean somewhere between 8-10, and winning it will mean 6 or 7.

  8. UK Homer
    8:53 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    What if we beat both Mizzou and UF, then UT wins enough to get in RPI top 50? At that point we’d have FIVE (UF twice, Mizzou twice, UT) top 50 W’s. Since lack of those was our Achilles heel until last weekend I’m assuming we’d reap the benefits of getting them, right? Single-digit seed?

  9. dave
    8:54 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    5-its because we’re fans. and, ya know, we’re not on the team. why would it ever matter it fans look ahead???

  10. Skeller03
    9:02 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Someone please make a gif of the UofL cardinal mascot getting hit in the head with a basketball at the 6:40 mark in the second half. Priceless.

  11. John Ellis
    10:18 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    I think UK is going to move out of the play-in game (which should be all the 16 seeds, don’t give me the, “Well…”). And do some damage. I will remind all the Tubby thumpers that the lowest seed he ever got against a much more difficult schedule was an 8 seed, and one of those was outrageous (UK’s RPI was 13, and came within four points of upsetting the overall #1 seed UConn). This team has as much talent as any in the country it’s just inexperienced. The last four games however may have done a lot to advance them, we’ll see.

  12. Ridge Runner
    10:27 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    11, John I tend to agree with you overall. However, I don’t think I can draw any comparisons to the Smith teams. I love my Cats but this team can go hot to cold, energy to head hanging in a heartbeat and what they must guard against. They can be beat and have been —by themselves.

  13. sangaman
    10:45 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    I’d bet money on Kentucky being better than a 10 seed should they win the SEC tournament.

  14. Ridge Runner
    10:47 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    13, would make a good over/under number for sure ($$ involved)

  15. Whatsportareyouwatching?
    7:37 am March 15, 2013 Permalink

    There is no potential that UK beats a squad like Indiana.

  16. Matt
    7:44 am March 15, 2013 Permalink

    15. Have you watched college basketball this year? There are no unbeatable teams. Especially at neutral sites or away games. TCU beat Kansas, Penn State beat Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Butler have all beaten IU. UK is more than capable of playing as good as any of those teams in a 1 game scenario. Anything can happen in March.