Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: It’s a four game season now

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Feb. 20, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Jalen Steele (0) is defended by Alabama Crimson Tide guards Trevor Releford (12) and Retin Obasohan (32) during the second half at Coleman Coliseum. Alabama won 64-56. Mandatory Credit: Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

2/27 – vs Mississippi State
7-19 (2-12)
RPI RANK: 241

Face it. This is a game Kentucky should and will win easily. And in case the committee looks at margins, this needs to be a 20+ point win. Minimum. Vanderbilt dusted this team 72-31 this weekend and the Bulldogs are 0-14 against top 100 teams and have lost 12 games in a row. The Bulldogs do not have a player averaging in double digits. This game needs to be like ripping off a band-aid … over as quickly as possible and painless. A loss here would throw Kentucky into the NIT much like the loss to Georgia did a few years ago.

 

February 23, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Rickey Scott (3) drives to the basket as Florida Gators guard Michael Frazier II (20) defends during the first half at the Stephen C. O

3/2 – @ Arkansas
17-10 (8-6)
RPI RANK: 82

This game kind of scares me. The Razorbacks are probably not a NCAA team, but they are a very tough team to beat at home and are 16-1 at Bud Walton Arena. Teams like Florida, Missouri, and Oklahoma have all left Arkansas with their tail between their legs and if Kentucky is not careful, they can too. This is a team that has lost to Vanderbilt and South Carolina on the road by 18 and 21 but the only team to win on their home court has been Syracuse. It’s cliché, but this game depends on which Kentucky and Arkansas team show up.

 

Feb 23, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) shakes hands with Georgia Director of Basketball Operations Kent Davison near the end of overtime against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the overtime at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia defeated South Carolina 62-54 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

3/7 – @ Georgia
13-14 (7-7)
RPI RANK: 122

Once again, a game that Kentucky should win easily, but it should be noted that the Bulldogs own a road win over Tennessee and have swept Texas A&M. Those are fringe teams that beat Kentucky and the Bulldogs are 0-6 versus top 50 teams. Texas A&M is the Bulldogs best win, which is also Kentucky’s worse loss ironically. Interestingly, the Bulldogs did have a very respectable loss to Indiana by 13 points on a neutral court, so let’s root for the Wildcats to win by 15 without much drama.

 

February 23, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators center Patric Young (4) slam dunks against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the second half at the Stephen C. O

3/9 – Florida
22-4 (12-2)
RPI RANK: 4

Make no mistake, Florida is the crown jewel of the SEC and a win here would probably give UK a #6 seed and a spot in the rankings. Kentucky looked horrible versus the Gators earlier, but this game is at Rupp and well, Billy Donovan has not fared that well at Rupp and the Gators are 7-4 in true road games. So a win is possible. After Saturday, I have renewed optimism in this game as Missouri has beatedn Florida recently and we saw how Kentucky finally responded to the big game atmosphere at Rupp.

 

Feb 20, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 74-70. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

So bottom line … what does Kentucky have to do to make the tournament. I say that as of now, Kentucky needs three wins to clinch a spot and the easiest path is Mississippi State, Georgia, and Arkansas. That will put Kentucky at 22-8 and 13-4. Seeing that Alabama has to play at Gainesville on 3/2, that should also give UK sole position of second in the SEC. So a spot should be won, regardless of what happens against UF. A loss should still give Kentucky at least an eight seed, which can be improved by winning two games in the SEC Tournament. Despite all the conjecture and negativity of the season, the story is hardly written and can still have a successful ending.

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