Do the Kentucky Wildcats have a magic number of three to make the NCAA Basketball Tournament?

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Feb 27, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari coaches his team against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the second half at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

As you read most of the bracketology reports and articles by national pundits, most of them will have given up on the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team and their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. I personally think that unless they beat Florida Saturday, they need a SEC Tournament Title, but apparently, there are some that think they may not need to do all that even. Matt Norlander seems to think that Kentucky needs three wins total to get them into the tournament:


Because, in my humble estimation, the scenario has been the same for Kentucky since Nerlens Noel was lost for the year. It’s more about good wins than run-of-the-mill losses for UK. The team needs to show it can rack up another quality win or two. At the time of Noel’s injury, UK had seven SEC games remaining on the regular-season schedule. Factor in one SEC tourney game at least, and that’s eight games, minimally. I thought UK would need six wins in that stretch to make claim to/have a chance at a bid.

And after falling 73-60 at Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, Kentucky is 3-2 since Noel’s injury. So three more wins are still required, regardless of how they come. This all remains unchanged from where Kentucky sat Saturday morning, earlier this week, even 10 days ago. Compile the wins, boys.

Next up, the Wildcats have a road game against Georgia (I’m not sure how tricky this one will be; Georgia did beat Tennessee at home on Saturday, though) and then finish up the slate next Saturday at home against Florida. Then comes the SEC tournament. One win there could be enough. Two would close the discussion. UK would be in, because it would, by nature, bypass other fringe teams in the process.


So according to Matt, Kentucky can get in even if they lose to Florida. Just beat Georgia and win two in the SEC. Sounds easy enough, right?


March 2, 2013; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari coaches a player from the sidelines during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas defeated Kentucky 73-60. Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

When the book is closed on this season and the story has been written, we will find that it has been the same them all along. Youth will be blamed as the culprit of the team and the fact that freshmen will be freshmen.


“We’ve got a couple of guys who are overwhelmed by stuff, and that’s typical freshmen,” Calipari said. “When you get overwhelmed, you get anxiety and you back up.”

The past three years, UK has enjoyed atypical freshmen. Some were already mature. Others matured quickly. Calipari has pretty much known what he was going to get game after game, and most of it was good. Really good.

It hasn’t been that way this season. His first three seasons at UK, Calipari lost one game by double digits. This year, he’s lost five. Three of those came with Nerlens Noel in the lineup.

Calipari has tried to speed up the growing up. (This is not a guy who lacks ideas or is unwilling to try new things.) Sometimes, that just can’t be done, no matter how many different methods you try, no matter how loud your voice.

If you coach a young team that insists on staying young, your eyes are going to open most mornings to the thought that you don’t know what to expect, and that may just make you want to scream.

“We could go out next game and play out of our minds,” said Calipari, giving it a who-knows shrug. “And I’ll be happy.”

That’s just it with this team, you never know.

And, if you’re young, that’s one lesson right there: Just when you think you know, that’s when you really don’t.


I’m not a huge fan of comparing Kentucky teams, but I will say this.  If you are still talking about guys being overwhelmed by the college game in March, said players should not even consider themselves ready for the NBA.


Andrew Wiggins may or may not be ready for the NBA, depending on who you talk to.  Yet, he has to spend a year or so at college first, and Kentucky is still in the mix for his services.  He is in the midst of a visit to Kansas and will take in the Jayhawks senior night game tonight.  Even though he is on campus, the Jayhawks the feel of an underdog in the Wiggins sweepstakes:


Based on all that, the consensus among national recruiting analysts is that Kansas is an underdog when it comes to landing Wiggins. The Jayhawks currently have five players signed in the 2013 class, including four top-40 recruits: guards Conner Frankamp, Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene and center Joel Embiid. Kansas has also signed prep-school point guard Frank Mason.

KU currently has one open scholarship, but it would have another if freshman guard Ben McLemore declares for the NBA Draft.


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