Here are 5 teams for Kentucky fans, and fans of all bubble teams, to be rooting for this week in conference tournaments (in alphabetical order):
1. Akron (MAC): After the indefinite suspension of Akron starting PG Alex Abreu, the MAC could be a one-bid league regardless of what happens. Just to be safe, however, UK fans and all fans of bubble teams should be rooting for Akron. The Zips are 23-6 with an RPI of 53 and have an outside chance of an at-large bid. Ohio, the 2-seed in the MAC tournament, only has an RPI of 74 and isn’t much of a threat to earn an at-large bid. Akron could sneak in the tournament if they show just enough competence this week without their starting guard to win at least one game, even without a league tournament title. UK fans should root for Akron to win the MAC, or at least lose badly in their first game to ensure they don’t get an at-large bid.
2. Bucknell (Patriot League): You should be rooting for Bucknell Wednesday night as it hosts Lafayette in the Patriot League finals. Bucknell is the regular season champion of the Patriot League and the Bison are 26-5 with an RPI of 51. Lafayette (19-14) will be playing in its final game if it losses Wednesday, but if Bucknell losses, the Patriot League could be a two-bid league.
3. Louisiana Tech (WAC): 1-seed Louisiana Tech (25-5, RPI 46) and 2-seed Denver (21-8, RPI 57) are the favorites and the WAC could be a 2-bid league regardless of what happens this week, but Louisiana Tech is clearly the best candidate for an at-large bid, so you should be rooting for them over Denver or anyone else in the WAC tournament.
4. Memphis (C-USA): Memphis, owning a 27-4 record and RPI of 16, is the heavy favorite and a lock for an at-large bid. Southern Miss could possibly be a second at-large team from Conference USA with a record of 21-8 and RPI of 35. To be most safe, UK fans and other tournament hopefuls should be pulling for Memphis to win the league tournament. If Memphis doesn’t win, than Southern Miss would be the best alternative to capture the tournament crown. The best case scenario would be if Southern Miss loses its first game and Memphis cruises to easily win the tournament, which may ensure that C-USA only gets one team into the tournament. Memphis went undefeated in conference play during the regular season, so lets hope that continues.
5. Valparaiso (Horizon): Regular-season champ Valparaiso (24-7, RPI 60) is unlikely to receive an at large bid if it loses its conference championship game Tuesday against Wright State. However, as small as Valpo’s chances would be of receiving an at-large bid, Wright State has no chance of dancing unless it wins Tuesday. Wright State owns a 21-11 record and an RPI of only 142, so UK fans and anyone on the bubble should definitely be rooting for Valparaiso.
Hopefully, the Cats just take care of business on Friday night, and none of this will likely mean anything to Kentucky.