In the latest round of NCAA Tournament bracketology, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi placed Kentucky as the 3-seed in the East Region, starting out in Indianapolis.
Kentucky’s first-round matchup would be against the Valparaiso Crusaders, a team that the Wildcats defeated 87-63 back on December 7. The Wildcats had four players in double-figures, with Bam Adebayo leading the team with 16 points and Malik Monk adding 15 in the victory.
If Kentucky were to defeat the Crusaders once again, they would then move on to face either SMU (6 seed), Syracuse (11 seed), or Marquette (11 seed). Syracuse and Marquette would play in that opening round play-in game
Kentucky’s theoretical Sweet 16 matchup would be against 2-seed Florida State, which has seemingly been a popular UK opponent in projected brackets this season. FSU would have to get past Northwestern or TCU to reach the Sweet 16.
The 1-seed in the East Region is defending national champion Villanova. Villanova has been one of the projected favorites to repeat as national champions this season. To reach the Elite 8, Villanova would have to take down Oklahoma State/VCU and then likely either Virginia/Wisconsin.
Kansas, Baylor, and Gonzaga join Villanova on the 1-line. Louisville, UNC, and Oregon join FSU on the 2-line. Arizona, Florida, and Duke join Kentucky as 3-seeds in the bracket.
The SEC has four teams in the field with Kentucky and Florida as 3-seeds, South Carolina as a 7-seed, and Arkansas as an 11-seed. Tennessee is included in Lunardi’s First Four Out.
Elsewhere, USA Today has Kentucky earning a 3-seed in the East Region with a similar setup:
Wisconsin in the second game would be brutal, but Florida State is as a 2-seed is favorable based on their recent slide. Villanova probably makes the Elite Eight with this setup, so Kentucky would have to get past arguably the best team in college basketball just to make the Final Four.
The Washington Post also has Kentucky earning a 3-seed, though this one comes in the South Region:
Baylor as the 2-seed sets up a potential Sweet 16 matchup with the Bears. UNC as the 1-seed means the Cats and Heels could meet again with a Final Four berth at stake.
The latest CBS projections have Kentucky earning a 3-seed in the West, which turns out to be one of the more favorable brackets the Cats land in.
Oregon as the 2-seed is very formidable, but outside of the Ducks, you have to feel good about the Cats’ chances vs teams like USC, SMU, Michigan State or even Gonzaga if they even make it to the Elite Eight.
All of these projections show that Kentucky is in great shape for a 3 seed if they lose no more than one game between now and the NCAA Tournament. Looking at some of the teams getting higher seeds, it’s fair to think that a strong finish by the Cats should get them a 2-seed, so long as teams like Florida State, North Carolina, Baylor, Louisville, and/or Oregon lose a few more games.
Of all the above projections, which would you like most for Kentucky?