2014 NCAA Tournament: Answering Questions About the Kentucky Wildcats At The Round Table

A Sea of Blue's front-page authors examine two important questions about the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament.

Welcome to yet another A Sea of Blue Round Table, where the front page authors discuss two questions concerning the Wildcats. Naturally, tonight's questions regard the men's basketball team and their post-season prospects. The two questions for today are:

  1. What do you think of Kentucky's seed, and why?

  2. What is the one thing that Kentucky needs to do better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the regular season?

Glenn Logan

1. What do you think of Kentucky's seed, and why?

I think it obviously could be better, but I'm fine with it as is. Kentucky, in my view, simply didn't do good enough work to get much above a 7 seed, and I don't feel much like complaining about one seed line more or less. These guys came in more ballyhooed than any freshman class in history. Let them prove they deserve it in the post-season, since they failed to do so in the regular season.

2. What is the one thing that Kentucky needs to do better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the regular season?

Shoot the ball from the perimeter. They need to shoot it more, and better. The formula to challenge Kentucky has been to pack it in all season. Calipari tried to defeat that by taking advantage of the new emphasis on impeding the ballhandler, but I think we can safely say that did not work. Move the ball from inside out, knock down threes, and the inside will open up.

Greg Edwards

1. What do you think of Kentucky's seed, and why?

While the seeding is not ideal, performance this season does not warrant a lot of complaining. The formula is simple. You want a better seed, beat better teams. When you don't, you get what's left over, and I think that is what happened to the Cats. Everyone knew they were good enough to be in the tournament, but they could not figure out where they fit in. An 8 seed means they were about the 32nd best team in the country this year. To me that seems about right. Anyone complaining ought to be in a Tennessee fan's shoes this season. An SEC team in a play-in game??

2. What is the one thing that Kentucky needs to do better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the regular season?

This one is pretty simple. They need to play better. And they need to do it every time they step on the court. The military has a term for some of what we have witnessed on the court this season. It's not a nice term. This team does not play consistently well.

James Streble

1. What do you think of Kentucky's seed, and why?

I was honestly a little surprised at Kentucky's seeding at first. But then I came to realize a few things. 1). Despite the fact that Kentucky played their best basketball in months during the SEC tournament, the selection committee more than likely had things figured out by the time the Florida game tipped off. So, too little, too late in that regard. 2). Kentucky dropped two games to Arkansas (away and at home), a game at LSU and a game at South Carolina. Sorry, but those are all bad losses. 3). Outside of Louisville, who did Kentucky beat that was worth a damn in the eyes of the committee? We all know LSU is tough, as is Georgia, but the committee doesn't think so. Louisville, Tennessee and Providence were the only tournament teams that Kentucky beat.

Kentucky had three chances to beat Florida. They had a chance to beat UNC, Michigan State and Baylor but did not. What is in the past is in the past. Kentucky is better than an 8, but that's the hand they were dealt. Time to move on and play some basketball.

2. What is the one thing that Kentucky needs to do better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the regular season?

The one thing Kentucky needs to do better is play defense. Shots are falling and the offense is running more efficiently thanks to the tweak, so I think that part of their game has been addressed. The team is starting to show promise on defense. Julius Randle has defended the ball better, WCS is returning to form as the eraser in the middle, and Aaron Harrison defending better as well. But I am still seeing James Young, Andrew Harrison and Alex Poythress getting beat off the dribble too many times. There are still times when players are late on switches and there is a man left open for a three.

The transition defense is much, much better but there is still work to do in the half court. If they can defend as well as score, then this can be a dangerous basketball team. Will the 2-3 zone be utilized more? Kentucky's length seems to suggest that the tournament would be a perfect time to implement it more. Hopefully Cal's new tweaks are of the defensive variety.

Alex Scutchfield

1. What do you think of Kentucky's seed, and why?

Kentucky's seed is too low, but it has only itself to blame. Once the late season losses mounted, the Cats were going to have to take whatever they got. Ironically, Wichita State loses out the worst in this scenario. A one seed should not play one of the 15 teams no one wants to play in the second round.

Similarly, Kentucky WAS hosed by Louisville's poor seeding. Ordinarily the beauty of playing a #1 early is winning gives you the benefit of that team's seed for the rest of the regional. If Kentucky were to get past Wichita State, it's reward will be to play a team that should have been no worse than a 2. That sucks.

2. What is the one thing that Kentucky needs to do better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the regular season?

Transition defense, though passing the basketball is a close second. The former is an easier fix, and it cost the Cats about six points a game this year. If UK is going to make it through the gauntlet of its first three games, it will have to get back on D on every possession.

JC25

1. What do you think of Kentucky's seed, and why?

Given the importance the selection committee placed on conference tournament performance and the late timing of the SEC Championship game, I wonder where Kentucky would have been seeded had the final score been 62-61 in favor of the Wildcats. UCLA's pre-conference tournament resume isn't any better than Kentucky's, but the Bruins toppled Arizona and were rewarded with a 4-seed! That said, if the Wildcats wanted a better seed, they should have have won more games. It is what it is.

2. What is the one thing that Kentucky needs to do better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the regular season?

Share the ball. I get that ball distribution isn't Kentucky's biggest problem, but it's infuriating to watch--multiple times a game!--the Harrison twins and Young take the ball to the hoop with the sole intent of hoisting the ball around the basket instead of looking to create easier shots. (The most infuriating of them all is when this happens on a 2-on-1 fast break.) Better ball distribution won't automatically get this team into "kumbaya" mode, but it would sure be nice to see these guys creating team camaraderie by looking out for each other on the court.

Will Marshall

1. What do you think of Kentucky's seed, and why?

I was surprised by the seeding, based on all the conventional wisdom leading up to the selection show, but in hindsight it probably was a fair seeding. UK had a strong showing in the SEC tournament, but that came after a 2-3 week stretch of pure unadulterated horror. I don't think a single strong weekend cancels that out, and on top of that UK still hasn't had a notable win since December. Arguably, UK was treated fairly if you believe Kansas State is the weakest among the 9 seeds, and Wichita State is the 1 seed with the most questions.

If the NCAA was placing teams based on geography this year, which seems to be the case, I think I would rather have UK in this slot than the previously believed 6 or 7 seed in the Midwest. In that case UK would be facing a second round match-up against Duke or Michigan. If UK had won the SEC tournament some thought that may get them a 5 seed in which case UK would be facing UofL in the second round. No matter where UK landed in the Midwest they were going to be challenged in the end.

2. What is the one thing that Kentucky needs to do better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the regular season?

Players on offense need to move and find the open area when they don't have the ball in their hands. The team tends towards relying on either their superior athleticism or streaky shooting to win games. That approach won't beat elite teams given their defensive limitations.

JLeverenz

1. What do you think of Kentucky's seed, and why?

Seems fine to me. The Cats had only 1 great win (Louisville) and slew of solid wins (Providence, Tennessee, Belmont, Boise St, etc). Those teams tend to get something in the 7-9 range. I think they were probably a 7 and got moved down for geographical reasons, in this case so that they could play in St. Louis instead of somewhere further away.

In terms of the region, it's obviously pretty tough at first glance. It has 4 teams ranked in the top 10 of Ken Massey's composite of various rating systems: the other regions only have 2 each. There is some benefit to knowing that we've beaten Louisville already, but there really are no potential games that I look at and think "Yeah, we've got that."

2. What is the one thing that Kentucky needs to do better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the regular season?

I guess the obvious answer is to defend better, but we've sung that song all season long so instead I'll pick something that might actually happen. Smarter passing is the key to me. They showed against LSU that they are indeed actually capable of moving the ball around until they find the guy with the open shot, or the clear path to the basket, or the mismatch. If they operate that way with more consistency it will allow them to take better advantage of their physical talent and overwhelm most opponents offensively.

Jords

1. What do you think of Kentucky's seed, and why?

I thought our seeding was fair. I did give a bit of a horrified yell when I saw how high Duke was but in retrospect with the impression of the overall state of the SEC, and our admittedly rough performance in the 5 games prior to the tourney there really wasn't much for me to base my outrage on. (Besides, you know, my hatred for all things Duke)

That said, I am starting to really question the SECT schedule. If we need to wrap up Saturday night in order to affect seeding, why aren't we doing it?

2. What is the one thing that Kentucky needs to do better in the NCAA Tournament than they did in the regular season?

All 5 players on the court need to be 100% bought in on every possession. If they're not mentally or physically capable of such, then they need subbed. Really that simple. No more 15 pt holes, or jogging back between plays. Just play. Play hard, play together. Just play.

So what do you think about our two questions, dear readers?

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