Kentucky Wildcats: RPI might spell RIP for Wildcats NCAA Tournament Chances

Jan. 22, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari reacts to action on the court during the first half against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Coleman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

After Kentucky’s loss to Alabama this past Tuesday, there has been a loud contingent of BBN voicing their concerns over the likelihood that the Wildcats will make the NCAA tournament this March.

Before that Tuesday though, those voices had been matched by a now quieting base of calm fans that continue to hush the concerned Cat fans.

Rather you are quieting the crowd or barking loudly, here are a few signs to look for when determining that the end is near and how to potentially determine the chances of dancing in March:

  • Since 2008, there have been 176 at-large bids handed out by the Selection Committee. 80% (140 bids) have gone to Major Conference teams with only 20% (36) going to Mid-Major schools.
  • There have been 150 Top 30 RPI schools in the last 5 years. Every single school has made the tournament. In fact, 92% (23 of 25) of Major Conference schools with an RPI of 50 or better have made the tournament. Ole Miss (48) and Ohio State (49) were both on the outside looking in, in 2008 and all of them in the last four years have received bids.
  • After the Top 50, only 51.8% of schools between 50 and 60 (14 of 27) schools have received at-large invitations and only 12.5% of schools ranked 60-70 have received At-Large bids.

Now comes Kentucky…

  • Kentucky is a proud member of the SEC – a Major Conference. However, the SEC is ranked 8th in RPI during this down year. That’s behind the Big 6 and Mid-Major conferences Mountain West and Atlantic 10, who could likely receive an at-large over the SEC.
  • Kentucky is ranked 61 in RPI after Tuesday’s loss to Alabama.  Following the above statistics, that’s a 12.5% chance. That’s a 1 in 8 chance… the same as flipping a coin three times in a row and each time it lands on heads.
  • Kentucky’s schedule the rest of the way has an average RPI of 106 which leaves little room for error or losses (and more importantly quality wins).  Here’s the breakdown:
>200 3
Top 100 3
Top 200 3
Top 25 3
Top 50 1
  •  Kentucky has 3 games against schools that could significantly boost Kentucky’s RPI, Florida (6) twice, Missouri (25), and Ole Miss (35). However, they also have 9 games that a loss could kill the season.
  • Kentucky has yet to lose against a team with an RPI less than 60 (A&M is 60, Alabama is 49). The only issue is that they have yet to win a game against a school with an RPI higher than 60 (Maryland 63).

The Wildcats’ two games against Florida, and games against Missouri, and Ole Miss will be the keys to Kentucky’s post-season destination. If Kentucky can avoid a loss to a team with an RPI greater than 50 during the rest of the regular season and the SEC Tournament, along with two wins during those three games against the Top 25 teams, their RPI should remain in the 40-50 area, shooting the Cats above the top 50 RPI and into the 92.5% dancing category.

If all else fails… there’s always the SEC Championship.

Topics: Basketball Articles, Kentucky Wildcats, March Madness, NCAA Selection, RPI

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