February 12, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators forward Nerlens Noel (3) is carried off the court by forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15), guard Archie Goodwin (10) , forward Alex Poythress (22) and forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) after he hurt his knee against the Florida Gators during the second half at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Florida won 69-52. Image credit: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Where does UK go from here?

Tuesday was a horrible day to be a Kentucky Wildcats fan but that does not mean it is the end of the world. As the Cats progressed through the season, fans realized that it would be tough to make a deep run in the tournament.

When I spoke to retired Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan earlier this season, he said that the Cats would be a Sweet 16 team, at best, at the time.

“They’re not going very far,” Ryan said in an email this morning.

Making a deep run no longer appears to be the case after Tuesday when Nerlens Noel went down with an injury, which will now know will sideline him for the entire season. Where do the Cats go from here? I don’t know but that does not mean that fans should be saying the season is over.

It’s far from over. The Cats still have the rest of the Southeastern Conference portion of their season. There are 7 games remaining in the season. That’s 7 games that the Cats have to show what they can do before the SEC Tournament starts in Nashville on March 13, 2013.

Seven games to see what Willie Cauley-Stein can do by playing a majority of the game at center, as opposed to being a twin tower with Nerlens Noel.

Seven games to see if Alex Poythress can be the player that we know, for a fact, that he can definitely be.

Seven games to see whether Archie Goodwin decides he wants to be a player who shows up and goes for 20-plus points or decides not to play.

Seven games to see whether the Cats will play in the NCAA Tournament or be bound for the NIT.

“I’d bet NIT at this point, but it’s dangerous to sell Cal short,” said Sporting News college basketball columnist Mike DeCourcy. “I mean, wouldn’t shock me at all if UK found a way to auto bid. There’s still only one team in league better, even without Nerlens Noel.”

Seven games left before the tournament. Or 280 minutes of basketball, barring an overtime contest. A lot can happen. It’s up to these Cats to decide what they want their fate to be.

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