[Moderated by Matt Jones]
It may be January, but it won’t be long before March Madness rolls around and with it comes the aformentioned “bubble talk.” As much as I hate to write it, hear it, or think about being on the bubble, this is the reality we face, with only one respectable win and losses to teams that range from top tier such as, Duke and Louisville, to mediocre squads at home, in Texas A&M and Baylor. Kentucky fans are known for being crazy. We are also known for being knowledgeable. With it comes some sense of realism.
Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology projects that Kentucky will in fact be in the round of 64, much to the chagrin of those taking the time to comment. Three of the four top seeded teams are regular season foes with Louisville as the overall number one, beginning the tournament in our own Rupp Arena, along with Duke, Indiana, and the championship runners-up, Kansas, rounding out the number one seeds. The SEC representation is not surprisingly modest, with only 4 teams projected to represent our conference–Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss, and Kentucky.
With the 10 seed in Philadelphia, UK would face UNLV in the first round (now called second but really who says that) and either the #2 Syracuse Orange or the alma mater of Mrs. Tyler Thompson, Davidson. The road to Atlanta would be more treacherous than even the actual road to Atlanta, with Duke and Ohio State as potential matchups in the East. Despite the surprising Final Four team of 2011, few but the most optimistic would hope for Catlanta this year if this were the final bracket. Frankly, with the performance of the past two games, it is difficult to argue we deserve a tournament berth, much less better seeding.
However, I’m not all doom and gloom, Kentucky is only 2 games into its conference schedule and many are already calling it quits. While this is not a championship caliber team, with Nerlens leading the charge, all hope is not lost. These young Cats were not expecting adversity this season. Just as Willie Cauley-Stein said “it’s Kentucky.” Without upperclassmen leadership and effort from the entire team top to bottom, this mindset cannot be overcome. But even with the trials of a 10-5 start and the first two home losses under John Calipari, a bye in the first round of the SEC Tournament is still possible, as is this team making a respectable run in March. It could begin tonight.
Get the ball Jarnell!
Facing off at home against our hated border rivals in the Smoky Mountains is yet another opportunity to turn things around. Tennessee is 8-6, scoring only 65.2 points a game and ranking an abysmal 318th in assists in Division I basketball. They also are 50% responsible for one of the worst college basketball games ever witnessed, a 37-36 loss at Georgetown in late November. Thanks for that one Jarnell. Too bad it wasn’t in Rupp as I’m sure you would have won…
So here’s to besting an inferior opponent in Rupp and bringing home another SEC title. I’ll be in attendance tonight, close enough to the rafters to swing from them, but supporting the boys in blue (and being thankful that Elston Turner does not play for Tennessee). Although we are neighbors and UT fans have returned to their natural state of apathy regarding Vol basketball, Tennessee is our nemesis. Always will be. Even if just for that orange.
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