Guess what’s back. Back again. Team Sheet’s back. Tell a friend.
When it looked like Kentucky’s chances for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament were in the dumpster earlier this month, I stopped doing my weekly team sheet updates because who wanted another reminder about how badly this season was going? Three wins later, including the team’s first over a ranked opponent, there may be a little bit of life left in the old girl after all.
Let’s be clear, the Cats’ best shot at making the Big Dance is still winning the SEC Tournament, but with three straight wins, their resume is trending up. Right now, Kentucky is No. 64 in the NET Rankings, which is eighth best in the SEC:
- 8. Alabama
- 17. Tennessee
- 26. Arkansas
- 27. LSU
- 29. Florida
- 39. Missouri
- 62. Ole Miss
- 64. Kentucky
- 71. Auburn
- 84. Mississippi State
- 91. Georgia
- 119. South Carolina
- 123. Vanderbilt
- 136. Texas A&M
Again, an at-large bid is still unlikely; however, it’s worth taking a look at Kentucky’s resume to see if there’s any chance the Cats could sneak in on Selection Sunday with a strong performance in Nashville.
As a refresher, the Selection Committee uses team sheets to decide where to seed teams in the NCAA Tournament. This year, the NCAA tweaked the NET formula to focus only on two metrics: Team Value Index, a results-based feature that rewards teams for beating quality opponents, particularly away from home; and efficiency, which is adjusted for strength of opponent and location (home/away/neutral) across all games played. Winning percentage, adjusted winning percentage, and scoring margin are no longer factors. Also, with teams playing home games with limited or no fans, the committee and staff is also studying home-court advantage.
Quad 1: 3-9
Home: 1-30, Neutral: 1-50, Away: 1-75
|8||01/26/2021||@ Alabama||L 59-70|
|16||12/01/2020||Kansas (Indianapolis, IN)||L 62-65|
|17||02/20/2021||@ Tennessee||W 70-55|
|29||01/09/2021||@ Florida||W 76-58|
|34||12/19/2020||North Carolina (Cleveland, OH)||L 63-75|
|39||02/03/2021||@ Missouri||L 70-75|
|53||12/26/2020||@ Louisville||L 59-62|
|62||03/02/2021||@ Ole Miss|
|71||01/16/2021||@ Auburn||L 59-66|
Quad 2: 3-4
Home: 31-75, Neutral: 51-100, Away: 76-135
|51||12/06/2020||Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA)||L 62-79|
|67||12/12/2020||Notre Dame||L 63-64|
|84||01/02/2021||@ Mississippi St.||W 78-73 (2 OT)|
|91||01/20/2021||@ Georgia||L 62-63|
|123||02/17/2021||@ Vanderbilt||W 82-78|
Quad 3: 2-0
Home: 76-160, Neutral: 101-200, Away: 136-240
|142||11/25/2020||Morehead St.||W 81-45|
Quad 4: 2-0
Home: 161-357, Neutral: 201-357, Away: 241-357
— The win over Tennessee vaulted the Cats’ NET ranking from No. 77 to No. 64, the highest it’s been all season.
— Kentucky’s 3-9 Quad 1 record isn’t great, but it is worth mentioning that only 22 teams have more Quad 1 wins right now…unfortunately, most of those teams don’t also have nine Quad 1 losses. Only Maryland and Minnesota have at least three Q1 wins and nine or more Q1 losses. As nice as those Q1 wins are, the losses are a reminder of opportunities lost.
— Similarly, Quadrant 2 doesn’t help Kentucky much either. The Cats are 3-4 in Q2, with losses to Georgia Tech (a game that’s on the cusp of Q1), Richmond, Notre Dame, and Georgia. Kentucky doesn’t have any Q3 or Q4 losses, thankfully, but those losses in Q2 are pretty ugly.
— Who knows what the SEC will do with the rest of the schedule, but as of now, Kentucky only has Q1 opportunities remaining in the regular season. Wins over Florida (NET: 29) and Ole Miss (NET: 62) would help the resume. If we use the current SEC Tournament bracket, the Cats would face Georgia (NET: 91) in the second round, LSU (NET: 27) in the quarterfinals, and potentially Arkansas (NET: 26) in the semis. Should they make it to the finals and play Alabama (NET: 8), that is the mother of all opportunities. Obviously, if you win, you’re in, but if you lose and it’s not a blowout, maybe, just maybe, you’ve put together a worthy resume. Stranger things have happened.