May or may not be Joe’s strategy. Also, note the “Go Wildcats” in the upper-left corner.
In not so surprising news, ESPN’s reigning NCAA Bracket expert (a job that seems much harder after Matt’s committee experience) Joe Lunardi says that Kentucky isn’t on his list of tournament teams for next month. Lunardi had some insight to share on the Wildcats’ fate during a televised game last night on the Worldwide Leader:
“I think you have to leave them out until we see a sustained level of play without [Noel].”
Having only played one game sans the big man, it’s pretty evident that we need to see a higher level of performance than what we saw Saturday. With no improvement, the Cats’ chances look grim, at best. “The only data point we have right now is a 30-point loss against Tennessee, a so-so team in the SEC. So when I look at Kentucky I’m saying, not that the first 24 games don’t matter, but they may not matter in the eyes of several committee members.”
So what exactly will it it take for Kentucky to punch their own ticket to the dance? With big games against Missouri and Florida left, both at home, they certainly have their work cut out for them. Winning either of those would provide one more signature win to go with Ole Miss, and alleviate a lot of pressure. More than two losses, though, might seal the fate of a team that’s already dropped eight.
Lunardi agrees: “They’re going to have to win an up game or two and avoid bad losses and show some sustained level of good play. Not great play because they weren’t a great team to begin with. We’re not talking about dropping a No. 1 seed, we’re talking a team that was maybe a 10 or an 11, so that’s why it’s such a tenuous spot for the Cats.”
We’ll see if “pedestrian” wins against Vandy, Mississippi state, Georgia, and Arkansas will be enough if the Cats can only pick up those games. And that one at Arkansas might be a little tougher than they’d like, since the Razorbacks have one of the tougher home arenas to play in.
Essentially, what Lunardi is saying in all this, and what most seem to agree on, is that the Wildcats have a new seven-game season, of which six games are left. You’ve got six games with your new team to earn a spot to the tourney. It’s up to them to respond.
What a difference a year makes.