Using hypotheticals when discussing sports is something I like to stray away from. However, “if” the SEC Tournament started today, the Kentucky Wildcats would be the fourth seed. Considering where John Calipari’s team was a week ago, that’s a massive improvement.
Less than one week ago, Kentucky had lost four straight games and looked to be heading downhill. However, after putting the clamps on sensational freshman Collin Sexton and the rest of a quality Alabama team, the Wildcats traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas and demolished the Arkansas Razorbacks in a matchup where Kentucky was a clear underdog.
Sure, the Wildcats will have to show everyone, even themselves, that they can play this way consistently. But why shouldn’t we believe them?
In the 2012-2013 season, Calipari was coming off a national championship and riding high and proud. However, it unraveled to be his worst year (by far) at Kentucky. He lost his only star (center Nerlens Noel) mid-season, went on to miss the NCAA Tournament and then lose in the first round of the NIT Tournament.
His 2013-2014 wasn’t very good during the season, either. However, like this year’s team, they were extremely young and had lots of talent. They were long, played hard on defense and grinded out games.
The Cats went just 1-5 against ranked opponents that season and finished the regular season at 22-9 (12-6 in SEC play). The SEC had a down year that season, as 12-6 was good enough to be the second seed in the tournament. However, as they were swept by Florida during the regular season, they lost in heartbreaking fashion (61-60) in the SEC Championship game.
The point here is they were mildly mediocre throughout the course of the regular season but really seemed to turn it on at the end of February/beginning of March.
Surely you’ve made the connection.
Just as it has been this season, college basketball was wide open in March, 2014. The twins, Julius Randle, James Young and co. took down two top-5, one top-10 and one top-15 team on their path to the NCAA Final.
They wound up losing to Shabazz Napier’s Connecticut team by six to finish runner up in what was certainly a Cinderella story considering the expectations that season.
Could the Cats sprout the same run this spring?
Time will certainly tell, but if Big Blue Nation has learned anything over the last seven seasons, it’s that Calipari will have his team ready by March.
“If” the SEC Tournament started today, the seedings would be as followed:
6. Mississippi State
10. South Carolina
11. Texas A&M
13. Ole Miss
Kentucky will round out their schedule with two of the top-5 SEC teams by hosting Missouri this Saturday and traveling to Florida next Saturday. They’ll get the second-weakest team, Ole Miss, in the middle of next week on Wednesday.
Assuming the Cats go 2-1 or 3-0 down the stretch, they should lock up a top-4 seed and receive a double-bye to start the tournament.