While Kentucky fans get prepared to enter a second consecutive postseason without a ranking next to their team’s name, a simple face must be remembered. Up until John Calipari came to Lexington from Memphis, the Wildcats were riding a streak of four straight postseasons of being unranked. With that streak in mind, it got me thinking about what history has to say about Kentucky’s chances as they prepare to enter the SEC and NCAA tournament. Luckily for me, Mr. John Clay already did some research and dug up the results of the last 10 postseason tournament (NCAA and NIT) results for Kentucky and compared them to the ranking entering into that postseason. Below is the graph that John Clay put together.
From the above chart, trends are easy to see. And judging from these trends, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a deep tournament (NCAA or SEC) run by these Wildcats. In the four seasons Kentucky entered the postseason ranked, they came out of the SEC tournament with either a championship or the runner-up slot. Once into the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats did no worse than the elite eight. In fact, out of the four tournaments they were ranked in the last 10 seasons, they reached two elite eights, one final four, and even came away with one National Championship.
Now let’s look at the scenarios that most resemble this season. Kentucky has entered the postseason unranked in six of the last 10 years. The previous five seasons four quarterfinal losses and one semifinal loss in the SEC tournament. In other words, don’t expect a miracle SEC tournament championship to appear and help our seeding. After the SEC tournament, Kentucky settled for the NIT in two of the five seasons mentioned. In the three seasons they were lucky enough to make the NCAA tournament, they never made it out of the first weekend. One first round exit and two second round exits were all those Kentucky teams were able to muster.
While I am not one to call the season until it is over. And I still firmly believe that this group of Wildcats can get it together in a hurry and make some major noise in both the SEC and NCAA tournament. However, looking strictly at history, it doesn’t look promising. And if history is ignored, it can easily repeat itself. With that, I make this warning to the Big Blue Nation: It may be time to starting bracing for impact, as we do not have history on our side.