Despite the self-inflicted injuries the Kentucky Wildcats dealt themselves in losses to Arkansas and South Carolina last week, they still are in a semi-decent position for the NCAA basketball tournament. At least better than last year. When all the dust was cleared over the weekend of basketball matchups, Kentucky is looking at a possible six seed.
Kentucky won’t be in jeopardy of missing the NCAA tournament like it did last season. Despite back-to-back losses last week, the Wildcats are a projected No. 6 seed in the NCAAs based on their full body of work. But this team clearly won’t be cutting down nets — in SEC play and in the Big Dance — if it continues to sputter.
One thing Kentucky’s résumé won’t show you is the common theme for this year’s squad: No sense of urgency.
In the Wildcats’ latest blunder — a 72-67 road loss to South Carolina — they trailed by 16 points with 10 minutes remaining before frantically attempting a comeback. The aggression they used to get back into the game has to be an all-game effort. That hasn’t been the case for 29 games.
Despite all the warts and apparent blemishes of this basketball team, they are still in a somewhat decent position with the computer rankings. John Clay gives us a rundown.
The Cats are now No. 16 in the RPI. They are 0-3 against teams ranked in the RPI Top 25 — Louisville is currently No. 30 in the RPI — and 3-4 against teams in the Top 50.
The Cats are now 12th in ESPN’s BPI. Remember, they were No. 4 just one week ago.
The Cats are 19th in Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings for USA Today.
And Kentucky is No. 24 in Ken Pomeroy’s tempo-free analytics. UK is 20th in offensive efficiency and 45th in defensive efficiency.
Also, not a computer ranking — unless you consider his brain a computer — CBS’ Gary Parrish dropped UK from his daily Top 25.
I like Mark Cuban and he had some good points in his weekend rant on the “one and done” system in the NBA. In short, he promotes building up the D-League rather than having players go the one year in college. He also had the same point of view that the one and done players do not go to class and that whole song and dance. Mike DeCourcy disagrees with a lot of Cuban’s views and thinks he is wrong for a billion reasons.
Cuban instead chose to aim his dagger at the colleges, which he accused of hypocrisy for accepting players who quite possibly — in some cases quite likely — will not remain for more than a year before entering the draft. He did not address the fact that many personnel executives in his league encourage players who clearly are not prepared for pro ball to enter the draft merely so they can gamble a late-first round pick on them.
In his rant, Cuban talked about his desire to have the NBA promote to high schoolers that they should join the NBA D-League rather than college on their way to the draft. It is important that players have this option if they decide that college or college basketball is not for them, but it’s patently absurd to suggest it could be, for most players or the league itself, a superior course.
The coaches who Cuban suggests talented players should avoid have developed the likes of Grant Hill, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Danny Manning, Chris Webber, Anthony Davis, David West and Lance Stephenson for the league. There are three active Hall of Fame coaches in the ACC alone. They and their colleagues have years of experience with training players who often have minimal introductions to team defense and offensive structure and turning them into presentable teams. NCAA rules have been changed substantially in recent years to allow these coaches to do more work in developing the skills of their players.