I know that it is way too early to discuss the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the Kentucky Wildcat’s probable seeding, but ESPN is out with their latest round of information. And despite everything, I don’t think it is half bad news with an 8-3 record.
Earlier today, I told you that the two major polls ranked Kentucky as the #19th and #21 team in the country. That would seem to indicate that UK was in line for a #5 seed. Joe Lunardi over at ESPN released his Bracketology and Kentucky is listed as a #4 seed. What is interesting is Lunardi’s other four seeds: North Carolina, Baylor, and Kansas. That would seem to indicate that, at least in Lunardi’s eyes, that the Wildcats are still even with two of the teams that beat them.
The poll voters seem to have an obsession with moving teams up or down with a loss while Lunardi still has Kentucky maybe 5 spots higher than the pollsters would.
Another positive sign was the fact that Lunardi has six SEC teams in the SEC Tournament trailing only the Big 10 and the ACC, who each had seven. This is definitely a good thing for UK as it indicates that more quality wins are on the schedule than there were last year during tournament play. By comparison, Louisvilles’s conference, The American, only has three teams slated to get in.
It is not too late for UK to get that #1 seed for a NCAA Tournament but near perfection is required. A two or three seed is more likely and that can boosted up a notch if UK can win the SEC Tournament. It’s way to early to discuss, but hope is not lost.
These numbers are also consistent with ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, which attempts to look more into the numbers than the polls. In it, Kentucky is ranked 16th, which jives with the four seed for now. I admit this ranking looks a bit strange with Wisconsin, Villanova and UMass the top three teams before the polls number one Arizona, but it is a way to give more weight to the schedule and not punish teams as much for a close road loss. This is how the real committee looks at teams for the tournament rather than the pollsters.
In the BPI, Kentucky is ahead of Louisville (#19), North Carolina (#22) and Baylor (#47). OK, I did not say it was totally accurate, but it is a different way at looking at the numbers.
Not all the news is “half full” for Kentucky by the way. Lunardi gives Kentucky just a .07% chance of winning the NCAA, 4.7% to make the Final Four, and 35.7% chance to make the Sweet 16. This is his Bracket Predictions.
So clearly, Kentucky has a lot of work to do. And they must perform away from Rupp. WBN Stat guru Corey Price tells me that Kentucky is 1-9 in their last 10 games away from Rupp Arena. If that sounds historically bad, it is. Corey texted me that this is just the second time in the last 100 years that UK has been 1-9 or worse away from home. Between 1/28/1989 and 3/5/1990, UK went 1-20 in road/neutral site games.
This has to improve.