Going into today's SEC title game, the Kentucky Wildcats were the best kind of bubble team. Instead of riding the NCAA/NIT bubble, UK was one of several teams on the bubble for a #1 seed. In fact, some well-known bracket prognosticators had UK in the field as the third overall 1 seed.
Going into todays
SEC title game, the Kentucky Wildcats were the best kind of bubble team. Instead of riding the NCAA/NIT bubble, UK was one
of several teams on the bubble for a #1 seed. In
fact, some well-known bracket prognosticators had UK in the field as the third overall 1
bubble burst with their 17-point defeat at the hands of the Florida Gators. The selection committee apparently placed great
weight on the outcome of Sundays conference title games, awarding the 2 #1 seeds in
play to Duke and Washington, both of which won their title games on Sunday. UK losing (and losing decisively) to a team
considered to be a 4 seed by the committee obviously carried great weight.
Should it have carried
such weight? If one looks at many of the
factors the committee says that it considers in seeding teams (sometimes called the nitty
gritty numbers), then Kentucky had at least as favorable a profile as either Duke or
Washington. Of the nitty gritty
numbers the committee says it uses, the more important ones went like this:
Record Against RPI Top 25 Teams:
Against RPI Teams 26-50:
Against RPI Teams 51-100:
Wins in Last 10:
Record in games on the road/on neutral courts:
Non-Conference Strength of Schedule:
With so little to distinguish one team from
another, its easy to see how the committee relied so heavily on the results of todays
Perhaps the biggest
surprise was that the selection committee had enough time to finalize the brackets based
on todays results. Committee Chairman
Bob Bowlsby said on CBS that the committee prepared several contingency brackets based on
the outcomes of todays games. This is a
big change from previous seasons, when committee chairmen candidly admitted that Sundays
games had little, if any, effect on the seedings due to time constraints. This worked to UKs disadvantage in its quest
for a 1 seed this season, but if the committee was truly going by the numbers it claims it
uses, it is difficult to say that UK was treated unreasonably by the committee in giving
it a 2 seed.
Looking at UKs
place in the brackets, it appears that the committee gave UK some treats, but also have
some potential tricks along the way, too. The
committee favored UK by placing them in the Indianapolis pod for the first 2 rounds,
giving UK a short drive to central Indiana and insuring that The Blue Mist of UK
fans will be thick in Indy. Placing UK in the Austin
bracket also attempts to protect UK geographically by placing them in the South.
However, one must
wonder whether the committee also had a sense of humor as it bracketed UKs
first-round opponent and its potential second-round opponent. Kentucky will begin the run for its eighth title by
facing off Thursday against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
The Colonels, being so close to Lexington and being coached by legendary UK
point guard Travis Ford, definitely will not be your run-of-the-mill 15 seed. The incentive for EKU to play David to UKs
Goliath will be as great as possible.
goes according to chalk, UK would face the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2nd
round. Cincinnati had a regular series with UK
in the 80s, but the two teams have not played since 1990. Cincinnati fans have long wanted to renew the
series, but UK has chosen not to do so. Considering
this, and considering that UK has not lost to the Bearcats since 1939, one has to believe
that the Bearcats and their faithful are salivating at the chance to send the Cats
Looking at the other
side of the bracket, the two most immediate threats are the top seeds on that side, Duke
and Oklahoma. Oklahoma was arguably playing as
well as any team in the country at the end of the regular season, winning 6 in a row on
its way to a share of the Big XII regular-season title.
And no UK fan ever truly takes his or her eye off the Blue Devils, who bring
a combination of outside shooting and interior size which would require UK to bring its A
spoilers include #6 seed Utah with All-American big man Andrew Bogut and #4 seed Syracuse,
whose outside shooting and quirky 2-3 matchup zone always make them a dangerous tourney
Could UK have received
an easier trip? Surethe top 4 seeds in
the Albuquerque bracket seem to be the lightest of the 4 regions, with surprise 1 seed
Washington, Wake Forest, surprise 3 seed Gonzaga and Louisville holding the top seeds. But it could be worse, too: UK could be in the Syracuse region with North
Carolina and Kansas, two teams which defeated Kentucky this season.
The bottom line is that
UK held its destiny in its own hands today, and will do so from here on out. And that is all a team can ask for, even if their 1
seed bubble burst today.