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A look at Kentucky Basketball’s ‘team sheet’ so far, and what it means to the NCAA selection committee

See how Kentucky’s sheet looks with six regular season games to go.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Texas A&M
Kentucky Wildcats forward PJ Washington (25) with Wenyen Gabriel (32) and Nick Richards (4) during the National Anthem before the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Reed Arena.
C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

In December of 2017, the NCAA Tournament selection committee adjusted its team sheets, emphasizing road and neutral games more than ever before. The committee divides games into four separate quadrants with obviously quadrant one wins being the most valuable and quadrant four wins being the least.

So what does this mean for Kentucky in 2018? I have to think that if the season ended today, and the committee only focused on Kentucky’s body of work to this point, that the Cats would definitely get into the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky is 33rd in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The Cats are ranked 58th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 21st in adjusted defensive efficiency. As of Tuesday afternoon, Kentucky is 20th in the RPI. UK’s strength of schedule is ranked sixth by RPI.

Let’s take a look at how Kentucky stacks up in terms of quadrant wins and losses in this new NCAA system (all rankings based on current RPI):

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75

UK Q1 Record: 2-5

UK vs. 1-30, home:

  • vs. #13 Tennessee - Loss
  • vs. #17 Texas A&M - Win

UK vs. 1-50, neutral:

  • vs. #8 Kansas - Loss

UK vs. 1-75, away:

  • vs. #13 Tennessee - Loss
  • vs. #17 Texas A&M - Loss
  • vs. #23 Missouri - Loss
  • vs. #34 West Virginia - Win

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135

UK Q2 Record: 7-3

UK vs. 31-75, home:

  • vs. #41 Louisville - Win
  • vs. #44 Vermont - Win
  • vs. #47 Florida - Loss
  • vs. #56 Virginia Tech - Win
  • vs. #57 Mississippi State - Win
  • vs. #63 ETSU - Win

UK vs. 51-100, neutral:

  • vs. #53 UCLA - Loss

UK vs. 76-135, away:

  • vs. #76 South Carolina - Loss
  • vs. #77 LSU - Win
  • vs. #127 Vanderbilt - Win

Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240

UK Q3 Record: 4-0

UK vs. 76-160, home:

  • vs. #83 Georgia - Win
  • vs. #127 Vanderbilt - Win
  • vs. #150 Harvard - Win
  • vs. #102 Utah Valley - Win

Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus.

UK Q4 Record: 4-0

UK vs. 161-plus, home:

  • vs. #194 IP Fort Wayne - Win
  • vs. #223 Troy - Win
  • vs. #249 UIC - Win

UK vs. 201-plus, neutral:

  • vs. #203 Monmouth - Win

There are obviously a ton of other factors that come into play and several changes in rankings that are bound to occur over the next three weeks of the regular season. This was more a hypothetical activity to get a head start on the UK’s sheet leading up to March.

Not having any Q3 or Q4 losses certainly is a big plus for the Cats, and having a 7-3 record in Q2 is also solid. Even the 2-5 record in Q1 isn’t terrible considering Kentucky’s strength of schedule. But how many more regular season games will Kentucky lose? And how could potential losses affect Kentucky’s records in the respective quadrants?

Six games remain for the Cats in the regular season. Going by current RPI rankings, Kentucky would have four more games in the Q1 category:

  • 2/14 at #7 Auburn
  • 2/20 at #35 Arkansas
  • 2/24 vs. #23 Missouri
  • 3/3 at #47 Florida

The other two games would be a Q2 at home against #33 Alabama and a Q3 at home against #103 Ole Miss. It is extremely important for Kentucky to win both of its remaining Q2 and Q3 games.

Assuming Kentucky beats Alabama and Ole Miss at home, I think UK is still in the tournament if they can get one more Q1 win out of four. Two more Q1 wins should seal it and three would be awesome, but if Kentucky can finish the season 3-3 in its last six games, I think it will be fine, so long as the Cats don’t get ousted in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

Perhaps I am being a little tough on this team because of just how good the strength of schedule ranks, but I find it hard to think that the committee will put an 11 or 12-loss Kentucky team in the tournament. But I’ve been wrong before.

But the way the Cats are playing of late, they will need a dramatic increase in their level of play, especially on the offensive side of the ball. I think a win at Auburn is unlikely Wednesday night. The remaining five games after that are certainly winnable, especially the three at home. Each road game will provide a hostile environment, so who knows if this young Calipari team can rise to the occasion in these last six games? Or if they will simply continue on their current, downward trajectory? Time will tell.

Kentucky tips off at #9 Auburn at 9 p.m. EST tonight. Take your date out before so you can snuggle up with your sweetheart and watch the Cats take on the Tigers...Or don’t, if you don’t want to risk killing the mood.