Cats can make compelling case for #1

When the Southeastern Conference Tournament begins Kentucky will have the opportunity to fully exorcise its demons and establish itself as one of the NCAA Tournament's top four seeds if not the overall number one seed.

When the Southeastern Conference Tournament begins Kentucky will have the opportunity to fully exorcise its demons and establish itself as one of the NCAA Tournament's top four seeds if not the overall number one seed.

If things work out as coach John Calipari plans, the Wildcats are likely to play rubber matches against the only two teams that have marred their record, and provided they beat South Carolina and Tennessee, they will then have the chance to beat the second best team in the SEC, Vanderbilt, for a third consecutive time. I could not think of a better storyline for the NCAA Selection Committee.

Despite some close games down the stretch and a tight loss to UT in Knoxville, the young Wildcats will be favored to sweep the SEC Tournament regardless who they face. And if so, their stiffest challenge for the number one overall seed will likely be Kansas.

In round one of the Big 12 Tournament Kansas will face the winner of Texas Tech and Colorado. Kansas also had a late season road loss, but to an unranked opponent barely above .500 in the conference. When the Cats lost in Knoxville, they lost to a team ranked 13-15 in the various polls. Colorado took KU to OT on the Buffalo's home game but handled both teams by 20-points or more in their other games.

In their next game, their likely opponent is Texas A&M. Kansas beat the Aggies on the road in their only meeting this year. A rematch would likely not create much drama. In the finals, the Jayhawks will likely face Kansas State, who they destroyed on the road or Baylor, who gave KU all they could handle in Lawrence earlier this season. Baylor could possibly beat Kansas in the finals or extend them to their fullest limits in the process.

If things play out as described here, and both are probably the odds-on scenarios, then UK will have beaten the two teams that have beaten them, not once but twice. Kansas, only the other hand not have the opportunity to avenge even one of their losses unless Oklahoma State can get past both Kansas State and Baylor, which seems unlikely.

In the end, if both teams win their conference tournament as expected, Kansas will likely be the number one overall seed. Kansas indeed plays in a tougher conference even though the SEC has, in my mind, earned a great deal of respect over the last few weeks. Still, if Kansas struggles or loses, the Wildcats may have a more interesting storyline and compelling case for #1 by beating South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.


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