In less than two weeks, the Selection Committee will announce the official NCAA bracket and UK will find out what their tourney destination is. They’ve won their last 6 games, with the latest victory being a 10-point win in Rupp over the Gators to claim sole possession of first place in the SEC. Even better, we did it without our point guard, De’Aaron Fox. Albeit, this newfound confidence is coming off one positive game, but the team seems to have shaken off those midseason jitters and looks poised to head in the right direction with the NCAA Tournament right around the corner.
So what are the Cats looking at come Selection Sunday on March 12th? It’s about 4 a.m. Monday morning and I can’t sleep, so I figured I’d do some research on what the Cats should be expecting in a variety of scenarios over these next two weeks. I really like sports if you can’t tell. I’m no bracketologist, but feel free to sit in for a session of what could be’s with Kaanie Brackets. Pretty lame, right? Yeah, I know, but I’m tired and March Madness has me feeling some type of way. It’s probably just the ridiculous amount of coffee I just drank, though.
Who cares what seed UK is going to be? They’re going to get in the Tournament in a good position anyways.
I do, actually. Just want to help inform some fellow Cats fans wondering where they’re going to be ending up traveling to in support of the Cats in the Big Dance. We are all a part of this team, and the best way to be succeed is preparation. Any more questions? Good. Here we go.
Keep in mind, everything going forward is contingent upon UK winning out the rest of the season. If they lose to a reasonable squad, they will be a three-seed. I’ve got faith in 5 more W’s.
If the Cats win out and become SEC champions, they will be a two-seed. With 90% certainty I say this, there is only one scenario where the Cats may win out and not get a two. They are currently tip-toeing the 2/3 line, and with some impressive performances in front of a committee on which AD Mitch Barnhart sits, the Cats will at least have one person’s attention in the room. Duke’s AD is on the committee too. Screw him.
So really, the reason the Cats will be a two-seed is because the teams above them will be facing tougher roads through their conference tournaments and playing themselves out of Kentucky’s way. This is one time where being in a weaker conference is actually kind of beneficial. All we have to do is keep winning against the mediocre SEC, excluding Florida that is. Can we fight to a one-seed with a SEC tourney win? No, it seems that ship has sailed. But you bet your backside we can maintain our current standing by not eating an early round loss during Championship week.
Villanova, Kansas, UNC, Gonzaga, and Oregon are all pretty much set in stone going to be ranked above the Cats no matter what come Selection Sunday, but that’s about it. UCLA, Arizona, and UofL are all relatively equals at the moment, and, lookie there, UCLA and Arizona have a good chance they are going to have to play each other again. Baylor probably should be on the three-line below (somehow still a two) UK right now having lost 5 of their 8 games. If Baylor wins the Big-12 tournament, that could cause some problems, but they are trending in a very bad direction right now. These 4 teams along with UK are the only real contenders for the remaining 3 two-seeds available.
UCLA vs. Arizona (Rd. 3) – Pac-12 semifinals
The most likely way that UK finds their way on the 2-line is because this game has to happen. They’ve split the regular season, and now it seems likely they will face off for a third time in Las Vegas on 3/10 at 8:30 pm. This game will more than likely knock one of these teams from contention, the more likely candidate being UCLA. The committee hasn’t shown UCLA much love because of their sub-25oth ranked non-conference schedule, however they are probably one of the best 5 teams in the nation. We found that out the hard way in Rupp.
Unless one of these teams chokes up against a non-tourney team on their remaining schedules or in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 tournament against a bottom-tier team, they will be playing again, and it will more than likely be for a 2-seed in the tournament. Maybe even a 1-seed for Arizona if Oregon/Gonzaga implodes. It’s not for certain that Zona would drop to a three-seed, but it would be hard to see them losing to UCLA twice to end the season and staying afloat with only one quality win to date, that win being against UCLA. The Bruins are the easier team to drop down with a loss here.
Louisville will be a 2/3/4 seed in the ACC tournament. An early round loss or a poor performance against a quality team on Friday night could be enough to knock them down to the three line opening up another spot for Kentucky. UL finishes the season with Notre Dame at home, and if we don’t already have a reason to be ND fans during this game, Louisville losing would mean they get a semifinal matchup with UNC assuming they get past the quarterfinals. Uh oh, Dirty Birds.
Roughly the same picture for Baylor, we want them to lose, less competition. Sic ’em, Big 12.
By winning out and claiming an SEC Tournament title the Cats are more than likely due to end up in the South Bracket as North Carolina’s two-seed, or in the East as Nova’s two-seed if they are a higher ranked 2-seed. Baylor and Louisville need to falter a little during championship week for this to happen. UK will be the #1 team in the SEC selected in the tournament, therefore, there are no conflicts with being paired in a region with another SEC school. Louisville can’t play in the same bracket with Carolina, which will free up UK to play in the South Region (Memphis), along with proximity to the Memphis regional is closer to Lexington than NYC (East), San Jose (West), and Kansas City (Midwest). The Cats would play their first two rounds in Indianapolis, and more than likely will get to do so anyway regardless of what region they end up in.
If Oregon, Baylor, and Louisville are above UK as Joey Brackets has it right now according to today’s post on KSR, Kentucky will be the two-seed in the Midwest Bracket. Oregon gets placed out West, Baylor gets placed in the South since they are ranked above Louisville and Kentucky, UL goes to the East, and UK goes to the Midwest. However, if UK is ranked above Baylor, they are again placed in the South region. Stink it up real bad, Louisville. We need you to suck now more than ever.
Worst case scenario, UK wins out and still gets a three-seed. If Baylor wins the Big-12 tournament it will be hard to keep them off the two-line, meaning two of the Pac-12 teams will have to vacate (likely Zona and UCLA) for the Cats to get the last two-seed. If UCLA or Arizona win the Pac-12 and Louisville puts up a good fight in the semi’s, we are the odd man out.
If Oregon, Baylor and Louisville are all ahead of Kentucky as two-seeds come Selection Sunday and UK does end up getting the last two-seed, it gets tricky. Essentially, Baylor is here to screw things up for the Cats for a 2-seed.
Done with scenarios? Yes, me too. If UK loses another game the rest of the season I just wasted five hours of my life, but I believe they won’t and I was willing to take that risk. We don’t like Baylor, Louisville (EVER), or whoever wants to lose in the quarterfinals between UCLA/Arizona. In case you want to check out the bracketing principles on your own, you can click here. Where would you like to see UK play, and who do you think are favorable matchups in terms of the the top-4 seeds? Hope you feel more bracket educated. Go Cats.