Should Kentucky Wildcat Basketball fans be worried about the RPI? Or even the NIT?

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Dec 1, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts in the game against the Baylor Bears at Rupp Arena. Baylor defeated Kentucky 64-55. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Is it too early to worry about the Kentucky Wildcat’s RPI this year? With a 6-3 record this year and only one quality win versus Maryland and a weak SEC thus far, it is more important than ever that Kentucky knock off Louisville on December 29th. Jerry Tipton tells us that Jerry Palm, who has his own RPI Index for CBS Sports has Kentucky ranked at #84. That and Calipari’s recent statements that Kentucky is in maybe the “50-100″ range and even invoking the NIT as a motivational tool:

 

“If we’re in the NIT, it’s a good run to New York”

 

Really the NIT?  Well, if it is a motivational tool, it appears that it may be working:

 

“That’s his opinion,” Nerlens Noel said. “We’re not as good as we should be right now. But we’ve been putting in the work and we’re definitely willing to make strides.”

The NIT reference alarmed Mays. “If it doesn’t touch everybody a certain way, then I’m obviously worried about it,” he said. “But for him to say that. … everyone respects him enough, and he knows what he’s talking about. And for him to say that means a lot. I think everybody has the notion that we want to get pushed and whatever it takes, because we want to be that top 10 team.”

 

I took a look at the Real Time RPI site and found that in line with Jerry Palm’s findings.  Kentucky is ranked 81st as of today.    But is it time to worry?

 

Dec 8, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) takes the ball to the basket against Portland Pilots forward Ryan Nicholas (32) in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Portland 74-46. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

It’s important to remember that at this time the RPI is a very fickle animal and should not be taken too literally. In that current RPI, Colorado, who was blown out by Kansas this weekend is #3 and Kansas is #9. Indiana, the number one ranked team in the polls is #14 with a down bullet. Louisville is #16. LSU is #22. Yes LSU. And Ohio State is #24 on a downward trend. So worrying about the RPI at this point is akin to Chicken Little crying about the sky falling.

And to be honest, there is a reason that Jerry Lunardi only releases one bracketology before January.  In it, he has Kentucky as a #5  seed slated to face Bucknell.    Perhaps a better indicator is a power rankings index, which takes into account games played against Division 1 opponents and removes the cupcakes from the equation, which kills the RPI.  In this, Kentucky is ranked #9, right behind Louisville and in front of Florida.  

So is it time to worry?  No.  not yet.  But if we lose to Louisville?  I’m not even going to consider that scenario right now.

 

We mentioned last week that Kentucky commit Andrew Harrison had a triple double. It seems that triple doubles are contagious among Kentucky recruits this week. Kentucky commit and  future Harrison teammate Marcus Lee had one last night and put up  21 points, 19 rebounds, 11 blocks and 6 assists. UK recuit  JaQuan Lyle had one last night with 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.   IF that does not have you inspirede to watch more UK recruits play, Ben Roberts has put together a TV schedule where you can catch UK recruits in action over the next few weeks.

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