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Cats are in Sports Illustrated‘s Bubble Watch

After a shaky start in the SEC, the Cats are perched precariously on the NCAA Tournament bubble, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Glockner, who names the Cats as one of his SEC teams that are “in the mix”:

Kentucky was the final team into this week’s bracket, the defending national champions ignominiously scheduled to begin their title defense on a Wednesday night in Dayton. For all the possible promise of this season’s batch of Kiddie Cats, they have not yet delivered anything close to a substantive NCAA tournament profile, unless you count competitive losses as a plus. Right now, Kentucky is carrying an RPI in the high 60s, with a win over Maryland (itself falling out of this week’s bracket) as its only top-150 victory.

For all the faux-gnashing of teeth about the Wildcats’ positioning in mid-January, there is some legitimate reason for concern. The SEC is decidedly mediocre this season, with only Florida and (assumedly) Missouri available as truly quality conquests in league play. Kentucky doesn’t play either of those teams until Feb. 12, when it visits the Gators, and gets both of those teams at Rupp later on. With only one nonconference win likely to even end up in the top 200, this has the smell of Billy Gillispie’s first season in Lexington in 2007-08, when the Cats ultimately squeezed in as an 11-seed.

Given the massive turnover from last season’s roster, this isn’t entirely shocking. In fact, in the early entry era, it’s not a stunner for the defending national champion to miss the NCAA tournament entirely the following season. Just in the last five years, it’s happened to North Carolina (2010) and Florida (2008).

I’d expect Kentucky to scrape through enough SEC games to make it into the eventual Field of 68, but its margin for error isn’t great. Another couple of surprises like Texas A&M walking into Rupp and walking out with a win, and the Cats could be gunning for a different type of title come March: The NIT.

Does the thought of the NIT make you throw up a little bit too?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

27 Comments for Cats are in Sports Illustrated‘s Bubble Watch

  1. UK Homer
    2:10 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    Which would we rather have?: a) make tourney and lose in first weekend or b) win NIT. I know this team is a long way from achieving either at this point, but I’d like to think an NIT run would raise the confidence level of our returning players for 2013’s bench.

  2. knightynight
    2:10 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    It’s good this is getting a lot of press. They’ll get motivated to buy in one way or another.

  3. blueblooded
    2:11 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    I see what you did there TT!!! (-;

  4. Cats
    2:12 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    Experts on ESPN say that we drafted all the wrong freshmen. Out of the top freshmen we picked the worst ones. Say that none will do anything at the next level especially Noel. Said he will go high in draft but will be a huge bust. I agree. They also said there is no way this team is making the tourn. Guessing6-7 more losses. Say they are one of the worst teams in SEC. I also agree. They also said that Noel WCS poythress and Goodwin are locks to go go in the draft non will be back. I deffinately agree. I also think harrow will go.

  5. NIT???
    2:18 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    The NIT can be a good learning experience for a young talented team. That is if the young talented team intends to return the following year. Most of this team should start thinking about returning next year, however, there may not be playing time for most of them. As for the NCAA tournament, I’d love to see this team get a 15/16 seed and just scare the heck out of a 1/2 seed. It would be sooooo much fun to see the 1/2 seeds squirm.

  6. Content
    2:18 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    Nah…I’m still pleased with that tournament we won last year.

  7. Sammydog
    2:19 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    UK has more negative drivel written and said about it than APPLE stock right now. As a contrarian I think these “experts” are full of s**t.

  8. Steve
    2:22 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    Here’s what worries me if this team don’t get it turned around soon, the kids start getting tight because they see they are going from #3 in nation and top 10 in NBA draft to NIT and coming back next year ex. Noel. At least Cal can use the bench for motivation next year.

  9. Actually
    2:22 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    Like #6, I can rest on last year’s Team success for a long time. I’d love for the Cats to win it every year, but that is not really practical. Bring on what ever this year, NCAA/NIT… I do so hope that several of this year’s Team decides to go pro. Most of which has better brush up on “do you want fries with that”.

  10. Biglaw Dawgin'
    2:23 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    After a preseason #3 beside our name, yes, just thinking of the NIT makes me want to throw up.

  11. Content
    2:25 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    I also take solace in the fact that we have a groupd coming in next year that may go undefeated. I would rather have Wiggins commit than make it to the tournament this year.

  12. Biglaw Dawgin'
    2:27 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    1 – definitely a. The NIT is simply embarassing. Plus, UK would be no less than a 12 seed if they got in, and beating a 5 seed is no big deal. In other words, all they need is a chance to make a run. With the NIT, anything less than winning the whole thing is simply embarassing, and then, what would you do with that banner, hang it in Rupp beside our National Championship banner? Riiiight. The NIT is, at best, simply playing for 69th best team in the country. It wouldn’t raise confidence, it would lose recruits.

  13. TrollPatrol
    2:28 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    Experts are saying that you are pathetic and need attention. I agree. They also say this is because your mom loved donkey d!ck way more than you while you were young. I agree. They also said, out of all the pathetic people that post comments on message boards, you are the worst….because you can’t spell, you have no job or future, you can’t think of a better troll name than Cats, or the even more clever, Go Cats!, and your mom still loves donkey d!ck. I also agree. There is no way that you will ever say anything anybody cares about. Guessing you will say another 66-67 more comments that no one will read because you’re trying to fill that void. I’m done with you now.

  14. Honestly
    2:29 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    After watching the first part of this season, I honestly just want this to be over. When does football practice begin? Let’s have a successful 2013 football campaign followed by another group of kids coming in that will compete. Wake me up in August, just in time for the start of the football season. Let this nightmare be over.

  15. That goes to show
    2:29 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    10 that just goes to show that pre season rankings are useless. Maybe if 2 of the guys from last years team return with what we had coming in, they are a top 5 team. But no way this team should have been ranked that high. If they should have been then why wasn’t UCLA with their top recruting class??

  16. SeoulCat
    2:30 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    #4 so what was it like in ’86 when you guys last won the big one? My memory doesn’t extend back that far. I hear Reagan was in the White House, the USSR still existed, and Bon Jovi was huge. Can you fill us in on more details? What was it like?

  17. Shabazz
    2:39 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    15 – we were

  18. Blue
    2:39 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    Personally, I haven’t really started worrying about it yet. Call me overly optimistic, but I still think this team has the tools to make a legitimate run at a Final Four, simply because there really is no great team in college basketball this year. Sure, UofL, Indiana, Duke, and Kansas have sort of separated themselves from the pack a bit, but we have shown that we are perfectly capable of playing with those teams (see the UofL and Duke games for reference). Obviously we lost both games, but if a few bounces go the other way, we’re looking at a totally different scenario. Plus, there is plenty of time to improve between now and March, but we absolutely cannot afford to lose another home game. And, in all reality, if we lose on the road to anyone but Florida or Ole Miss, we might have to win 3 or 4 in Nashville.

    I think we ultimately end up getting in with an 8-12 seed (maybe a 7 if we were to miraculously run the table), but it is going to take some waking up and buying in on the part of the players. Two years ago, that team seemingly turned things around overnight. No reason to believe this group couldn’t do the same.

  19. That goes to show
    2:42 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    17 no they were 13-14 preseason. Not top 5.

  20. Ky_99
    2:46 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    I really love some our fan base. We have had a difficult start to a season and some sorry “fans” want to write off the rest of the season. Please do and don’t come back when this team hits stride. Unbelievable how many bandwagon fans a natl championship brings out.

  21. shabazz
    2:46 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    True. I just meant we were way higher than we should’ve been.

  22. bandwagon bob
    2:47 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    20 – being realistic doesn’t make you a bandwagon fan

  23. MJ4UK
    2:52 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    People who are putting down UK, the team, individuals, Calipari, whoever, are not helping the cause for this UK team. I know they don’t read this shizz, and thats a good thing. Who could be positive about Bouncing Back with all of the negativity surrounding them? People suck it up and support this team and what they are. UK won the title last year, let’s be happy about that and support this team. Because these are good kids who need our confidence and support. What some of our fan base is engaging in can’t be positive for recruiting. Current players don’t read this stuff, but high school kids are all about the internet and ESPN, all day long. They probably think, UK fans love their team when they are winning, but hate them when they are losing. I know not every fan thinks and reacts this way, but to the one’s that do, you need to grow a line beard, and a red flatbill, and march down to the chicken bucket…GO CATS always

  24. MJ4UK
    2:53 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    *get a red flat bill

  25. MC
    2:59 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    I agree with #20. I think Cal is simply struggling with personnel since Poythress isn’t playing the way he’s capable. He doesn’t know how to hide Wiltjer and Mays on defense, and since they’re a legit 7 deep that creates a lot of issues when they aren’t producing on offense. It’s like when Cal asks, what are you doing to help this team win? If the shots aren’t falling what else can you do? For Wiltjer it’s nothing, and Mays is limited. When Mays and Wiltjer are on the court at the same time the other team makes a run. Talent wise the top 5 can play with anyone. If we can get consistent minutes out of Wiltjer and Mays this team is fully capable of making a run..but that’s a BIG if. I know one thing though, I’ll still be cheering for them throughout.

  26. UK Fan
    3:14 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    Cal keeps saying the team needs to buy in to what they’re trying to teach. Problem is whether they do or don’t, they have just about played themselves out of an NCAA tourney bid. Another unexpected loss or two and it won’t matter whether they buy in or not.

  27. big cat
    4:02 pm January 15, 2013 Permalink

    Go cats!!! Go away fair- weather fans!!! Go big blue!!!!