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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: UK’s Pathetic SEC Schedule Is Going to Eventually Bite Them

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No doubt it is fun watching this team play and I see no reason why this team should not be in the Final Four and has a legit chance at the title.  But since SEC play started, its just boring to watch.  South Carolina was supposed to be the “best” team the Cats have played so far and even with our best player out early in the game and Bam in foul trouble, the Cats still won by 16.  Vanderbilt gave the Cats a semi-competitive game, as did Mississippi State.  But never once in any of those games so far have I thought the Cats were going to lose.  Never for one second.  The gap in talent between UK and the rest of the SEC is pathetic.  And just look at how many conference ranked opponents the Cats have played under Calipari and notice the very concerning trend:

2009-10: 6 (Tennessee (3 times), Vanderbilt (2 times), Mississippi)
2010-11: 4 (Vanderbilt (2 times), Florida (2 times))
2011-12: 3 (Florida (3 times))
2012-13: 3 (Florida (2 times), Mississippi)
2013-14: 3 (Florida (3 times))
2014-15: 2 (Arkansas (2 times))
2015-16: 1 (Texas A&M)
2016-17: 1 (South Carolina)
COMBINED: 23 (Florida-10 times, Vanderbilt-4 times, Tennessee-3 times, Arkansas-2 times, Ole Miss-2 times, Texas A&M, South Carolina)

With that said, the Cats are still very successful in these games:

2009-10: 5-1
2010-11: 3-1
2011-12: 3-0
2012-13: 2-1
2013-14: 0-3
2014-15: 2-0
2015-16: 1-0
2016-17: 1-0
COMBINED: 17-6

17-6 overall with 3 of those losses coming to #1 Florida in the 2013-14 season.

But here is my point: this will eventually bite the Cats in the ass.  Not only are they esentially playing 3 months without a quality NCAA Tournament opponent (thank god for Kansas this weekend), but their seeding can be damaged.  Every loss the Cats have the remainder of the season (sans Kansas) will be considered a BAD loss.  Florida will no longer be a ranked team after a 2-loss week.  North Carolina can lose games, Kansas can lose games, even Villanova has more quality opponents remaining than the Cats.  UK can maybe lose 1 game in conference play to get a #1 seed because they have only Kansas remaining that will be considered a quality win.

Let’s do a quick comparison of some of the other powers currently in college basketball.  Just to give you a comparison of how UK is put behind the 8-ball so often in conference play.  Here is how many ranked conference opponents each of these teams have played since the 2009-10 season (keep in mind UK has played 23 games):

Kansas: 53
Michigan State: 53
North Carolina: 38

Those teams are getting 2-4 more ranked conference opponents every season.  That is that many opportunities to impress the committee and improve their resume and that many FEWER chances to suffer a bad loss.  Kentucky only has bad losses remaining on the conference schedule which is why the Kansas game this weekend is so important.  It is likely the last game UK has to put a bow on their resume.  Beat the Jayhawks and you have 2 top wins and both losses being quality.  It probably gives the Cats one, maybe 2, losses to suffer to remain a #1 seed.

But wouldn’t it be so much better if the conference just improved?  It’s nice to win and all.  It’s so much better to watch entertaining basketball from both teams though.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

9 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: UK’s Pathetic SEC Schedule Is Going to Eventually Bite Them



  1. Sentient Third Eye
    8:40 am January 23, 2017 Permalink

    Agreed, but the SEC has largely already taken the steps to solve the problem over the last few seasons. They have improved scheduling. They have dramatically upgraded the conference’s coaches. Even the talent level is up. But it takes time. Because of those very steps to improve basketball, the SEC is the youngest league in the country, as the newer coaches have started to get their guys in.

    What is the last step the SEC needs? Time and patience. The worst thing the SEC teams could do is give up too early on coaches like Johnson, Anderson, Barnes or Pearl (or White down in Florida). Remember the lesson of Duke, who almost fired Coach K after four years, but decided to give him a little more time…



    • RealCatsFan
      9:28 am January 23, 2017 Permalink

      STE, I agree that there is some promise with some of the coaching hires, and some of the talent that is coming in. But at the same time, when coaching opportunities open at schools in basketball-friendly conferences, some of these coaches might get snapped up (Donovan). Still, I am hopeful that some of these talented young players hang around to make the league better. As BTI mentioned, there is still some deadwood that needs to be culled (looking at you, Johnny Jones.) To really get any respect from the media, a team OTHER THAN Kentucky needs to advance deep into the tourney, and it needs to be more than just a flash in the pan.



    • Sentient Third Eye
      9:38 am January 23, 2017 Permalink

      Certainly, Jones at LSU is an albatross around the SEC’s neck. While I generally want to give SEC’s coaches the benefit of the doubt, what Jones has done with the talent LSU has had is pitiful.



  2. EdC
    8:42 am January 23, 2017 Permalink

    Good luck getting people to listen to you. I said the same thing after the lackluster Louisville loss. It was one of the few chances UK gets at quality wins.

    One thing that perversely might help is that the horrible whistle happy SEC refs are forcing us to play half court which we need. Also forces us to learn how to play without key players which we need.

    When South Carolina and Florida are 2 and 3 in your conference you don’t have much of a conference and the committee knows that. UK’s greatest hop is the advanced analytics they are considering now that they have figured out the RPI stinks as an indicator. UK is consistently 1 or 2 in KenPom and Sagarin. We may not be able to get #1 back in KenPom since Gonzaga got it as they play an even weaker conference than we do. Probably the only way to get that back is to start playing lock down half court D and get that ranking back to single digits.



    • Sentient Third Eye
      8:55 am January 23, 2017 Permalink

      As long as we win, it won’t matter. UCLA in the sixties and seventies was in a far weaker conference than the SEC ever has been. Ditto for UNLV in their heyday. The best solution is to just win the games, and if the conference is so weak, there is no reason not to.



  3. kentuckyjoe
    8:49 am January 23, 2017 Permalink

    Good stuff BTI.



  4. gright
    9:05 am January 23, 2017 Permalink

    UK has little control over the rest of the conference but I don’t see why we can’t have a tougher out of conference schedule. We had too many cupcakes early in the season. North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA, Louisville and Michigan State were the best teams on our schedule this year and so far we are 2-2 against these teams.



  5. RealCatsFan
    9:23 am January 23, 2017 Permalink

    I posted this on the TwitterGate article, but I think it bears saying here as well:

    I have been saying this for years, and I will continue to stand behind it — UK is a square peg being jammed into a round hole in regards to the SEC. They should have left the SEC years ago and made the move to a conference that actually gives a crap about basketball — ACC (best fit), Big 10, whatever. Yes, I know they are in the SEC for the football money, but it doesn’t appear to me that schools like Louisville, UNC, Duke, Ohio St, MSU, etc., are starving to death out there. This league hurts UK’s chances to get a good tournament seed just about every year. Let’s face the facts — UK is not likely to be a perennial football leader in this league year in and year out. Basketball is what the school is known for. Why are we piddling around in a basketball backwater like the SEC?



  6. Blaineman
    12:16 pm January 23, 2017 Permalink

    Yes the SEC is currently weak and needs to be better but UK largely makes up for that by playing one of, if not the toughest out of conference schedules in the country. A counter point would be to ask the question, how in the world could Gonzaga continuously get top seeds when they play absolutely no one? That basically disproves your point.