We are now entering what is considered the home stretch for college basketball, the time when the pressure really heats up and NCAA Tournament spots and seeds are determined. Kentucky has 10 games (all SEC) remaining on it’s regular season schedule. There are some serious tests in there, with Florida twice and games at South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt. And we’ve seen this team play at levels where they could win all of those game or lose all of those games. Certainly the last couple weeks have shown us the best UK team we have seen this year. I would say that many, including myself, believe a Final Four is more than on the table now for this team.
But is a strong regular season finish necessary for a run to Houston? Below are each of UK’s Final Four teams and how they fared in their final 10 REGULAR SEASON SEC games, plus their SEC Tournament finish.
*UK played only 8 conference games in 1941 (won SEC Tournament)
*UK played only 9 conference games in 1948 (won SEC Tournament)
1949: 10-0 (won SEC Tournament)
1951: 10-0 (SEC Tournament Runner-Up)
1958: 8-2 (no SEC Tournament held)
1966: 9-1 (no SEC Tournament held)
1975: 8-2 (no SEC Tournament held)
1978: 9-1 (no SEC Tournament held)
1984: 8-2 (won SEC Tournament)
1993: 8-2 (won SEC Tournament)
1996: 10-0 (SEC Tournament Runner-Up)
1997: 8-2 (won SEC Tournament)
1998: 8-2 (won SEC Tournament)
2011: 6-4 (won SEC Tournament)
2012: 10-0 (SEC Tournament Runner-Up)
2013: 6-4 (SEC Tournament Runner-Up)
2014: 10-0 (won SEC Tournament)
A couple things to keep in mind here:
*Until Calipari arrived, every UK Final Four team excluding 1941 and 1948 (11 total) had won at least 8 of their last 10 games conference games. Interestingly enough, for some reason, 2 of Cal’s 4 Final Four teams did not reach that mark, instead going 6-4. But his other 2 went 10-0 meaning that 13 of 15 UK Final Four teams eligible for this stat won at least 8 of their final 10 SEC games.
*No matter who was coach, every UK Final Four team has reached the SEC Tournament title game except the ones who didn’t play an SEC Tournament.
Calipari has shown that a strong finish is not necessarily a requirement for a good tournament run but it certainly has been an indicator more often than not. And the SEC Tournament has been a PERFECT judge of just how far a team could go in the tournament. Which is also interesting because Cal has attempted to de-emphasize the SEC Tournament but it has been a good indicator of NCAA Tournament success.
How important is it to you to see the Cats win at least 8 of their final 10 games?