The NCAA Tournament: The Gift That Keeps On Giving. That's my new theme. The UK HOOPS program today got another high mark and a level of respect which had eluded them for most of their history. For only the second time in their existence, they managed to get a #2 Seed in a bracket that while it has some stumbling blocks, to me, gives them the Top #2 seed.
Not to be outdone too much by the guys, the women picking up that #2 seed is impressive when you look at the last two weeks of the SEC season. A Three game losing streak is not the kind of thing that inspires pundits, but in the end was not enough to scare off the Selection Committee. Let us look deeper into the crystal ball.
The women's bracket does not use all the same guidelines that the men do. First off, other than placing the lower tier seeds, the women usually have their teams in place before the conference tourneys take place. Thus, UK's #2 Seed. After losing to LSU in the SEC Tourney, I thought surely it would spell the end of any chances of UK getting a #2. Shows you what I know, and gratefully so.
UK finds themselves in their bracket behind only #1 UCONN. Yeah, just UCONN, just the team that wins it all every year. The ones who go undefeated a year or two at a time, and who make their opponents' heads explode just by jogging onto the court. Is that going to put the UKHOOPS squad off, no way. In fact, UCONN could be vulnerable to the exact type of game that Kentucky plays, and on a neutral court (admittedly, they will never travel more than 70 miles from home the entire tourney), who knows what might happen?
UK's first opponent would be McNeese State. There is not a lot to tell there and it will be a UK victory without getting into a huge stretch of talent or resources. However, the fun and games stop there. UK's next opponent would be either a 1-loss Green Bay squad or an Iowa State team which would be basically playing at home who presents some matchup problems for UK. Get by that and the ladies are staring at the possibility of either Rutgers or Miami, both of which give them teams they can run on and that do not like to be pressed. But that still leaves that 5000lb pink elephant in the top side of that bracket to deal with. At the top we could face UCONN, LSU, Penn St, or maybe Princeton, ALL of which present huge problems for UK.
I like UK's chances to get to the Elite Eight, and I am not ruling out the possibility of Final Four territory either. UK plays the kind of a game that is made for this tournament. The only team that UK could possibly face that they have already seen is LSU, and that is a distinct possibility, but I do not feel like thinking about that right now. Kentucky is sitting as well as they could have hoped for in this tournament, and they need to understand that this is something that can really work to their advantage.
Should UK reach the Holy Grail and get to that Final Four, I am looking at three #1 seeds staring them right in the face, with Tennessee being a possibility to knock off Baylor in what would be a game of Lady Titans. The only thing that would make me more happy than for the women to make it to the Finals, would be for them to be facing Tennessee when they get there. We do not know how much longer Pat Summitt will be at the helm in Knoxville, but taking Tennessee to the wire for the whole thing would be a storybook ending for Matthew Mitchell and his Wildcats in anyone's estimation.
No matter what, UK worked hard and earned their seed.And they should be proud of their accomplishment. And as these things become more and more commonplace for UKHoops it would be nice to look back on this one as the one that started it all.So, get your bracket here and enjoy the show.
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