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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: How Important Is a Strong Final 10 Games?

© Denny Medley

© Denny Medley

© Denny Medley

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?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

4 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: How Important Is a Strong Final 10 Games?

    8:11 am February 1, 2016 Permalink

    Kentucky did not go to the Final Four in 1941 or 2013. Facts are optional.

  2. ukjaybrat
    8:17 am February 1, 2016 Permalink

    we also wern’t runners up in 2013, we lost in the first round to vandy (technically third round with a double bye)

    and we did NOT win the tournament in 2014, we lost to florida.

    i think those stats are a year off… i think he meant to skip 2013 because we didn’t go to the tournament but kept numbering consecutively. those last two years should be 2014 and 2015.

    8:18 am February 1, 2016 Permalink

    BTI. Heavy sigh…….

  4. symphonist41169
    8:19 am February 1, 2016 Permalink

    Incredibly important, for at least the following four reasons:
    1) Tournament seeding. With no dominant force in basketball this year, reaching the Final Four will be
    as much about matchups and how far a team has to travel as it will be about the skill of the team.
    2) “Told-you-so”. After getting their egos bruised by Auburn, this team has come back in a major way, as witnessed by nearly beating Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, and Cal needs to be able to say “See what happens when you listen to me? Keep it up and we’re heading to Houston.”
    3) Seasoning. If the Cats finish the last 10 games at 10-0 or 9-1 or 8-2 it probably means there is a balance of contributors. That will be needed come tournament time (i.e. Marcus Lee vs. Michigan in 2014).
    4) Becoming accustomed to winning, expecting it. To steal from Yogi Berra, winning is 90% mental, the other half is talent.