With the highly anticipated game against Kansas on Saturday, the importance of this game cannot be understated. Kentucky’s resume to this point is not great, with the bright spot being a Quad 1 win against second (NET) ranked Tennessee, and the blemish being a horrible loss against 277th ranked South Carolina. That South Carolina loss is weighing heavily against the Cats tournament hopes, keeping them near the “Last Four In” or “First Four Out” territory. Kentucky is finally finding their stride, playing better on this four game win streak, but they still need to play well and get quality wins to improve their chances.
As of right now, Kentucky has jumped to a 79 percent chance of making the tournament. Last week that number was closer to 50 percent. Kansas at home ranks as a quadrant one win in the NET rankings, and to this point Kentucky only has one win against Quad 1 opponents, that being Tennessee. Getting two wins in Quad 1 will significantly help tournament odds.
Also, it will give you more Quad 1 wins than North Carolina, Creighton, and Arkansas, all teams seen as near locks as tournament teams. Those teams also don’t have a Quad 4 loss like the Cats do though, helping their resume over the Cats. Kentucky is being weighed down by their bad loss, which many of the teams ahead of them just don’t have.
The Kentucky schedule is good down the stretch for helping the resume, as the away games count as Quad 1 games for teams ranked within the top 75, allowing for a stronger looking resume. The schedule includes:
- Kansas – Quad 1
- At Ole Miss – Quad 3
- Florida – Quad 2
- Arkansas – Quad 1
- At Georgia – Quad 3
- At Miss State – Quad 1
- Tennessee – Quad 1
- At Florida – Quad 1
- Auburn – Quad 1
- Vanderbilt – Quad 3
- At Arkansas – Quad 1
If Kentucky keeps playing the way they have been, it is not improbable to see them having a winning chance against all of those teams. It is best for the Cats not to look too far ahead, and focus on a reeling Jayhawks team that has lost three straight. Kansas has not forgot last seasons embarrassment at the hand of the Cats, and will likely want to handout some revenge at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky plays at 8 ET on Saturday in Lexington.