I wouldn’t call this game a must win. It’s more of a can’t lose game. The difference? Even if Kentucky wins, there is no guarantee that they are in the NCAA Tournament. But if they lose it, they are out barring a SEC tournament title.
The Wildcats are currently a four point favorite at Georgia. Victory lies in stopping Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He is the only Bulldog averaging double digits (18 points per game) and Kentucky’s chances of winning greatly increase if Archie Goodwin and Julius Mays can slow him down.
It will be loud in Athens as Georgia will want to play spoiler end Kentucky’s tournament chances.
Spots in the tournament are quickly filling up and a couple of fringe teams may have punched their tickets last night.
The Villanova Wildcats have been in and out of the tournament the past couple of weeks, but they may have secured a spot last night by defeating #5 Georgetown at home.
Iowa State also looks to be in as they defeated took down #13 Oklahoma State. They were another fringe team that have a couple of quality wins were as the Kentucky Wildcats do not.
I had thought that Kentucky would have to beat Georgia, could lose to Florida, and win two SEC tournament games and would be fine for the tournament. With some of these bubble teams making statements, I have now come to the realization that Kentucky must beat Georgia and Florida both, as well as get to the SEC finals.
I hope I am wrong, but the lack of quality wins is killing this team.
ESPN published a list of the 75 greatest tournament teams and the Wildcats made the list a whopping eight times. The only team with more was UCLA. The top spot for Kentucky was the 1996 championship team at #5:
Kentucky had a bevy of pros for Rick Pitino during the 1995-96 season that saw the Cats finish 34-2. This team was as impressive as I can remember in covering 20-plus Final Fours. The Wildcats seemed like professionals who weren’t afraid of the moment, constantly embracing challenges. Ron Mercer, Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Wayne Turner, Walter McCarty and Co., formed one of the most loaded rosters in NCAA tournament history and finished with a perfect 16-0 mark in SEC play that season. These Cats were entertaining and played the way Pitino wanted — defending, trapping and pushing the basketball. – Andy Katz
The next highest Kentucky team on the list was the most recent 2012 title team. They came in at #16:
“I wanted everybody to see we were the best team this season. We were the best team. I wanted this to be one for the ages.” That was Kentucky coach John Calipari just a few minutes after cutting down the nets at the 2012 Final Four, where his collection of NBA-ready talent — the most important among it freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — had finished steamrolling the rest of college basketball with stifling defense, hyper-efficient offense and a cohesion well beyond their years. It’s too early to know whether the 2012 Wildcats will be a team for the ages, but there’s no doubt they’re the team for their age. – Eamonn Brennan
Louisville’s two (giggle) championship teams are on there and their highest entry came in at #23. Basketball royalty my rear end.