Saturday afternoon wasn’t a success in any way for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Missing inside bull Reid Travis and suffering from foul trouble and a rash of turnovers, the Cats dropped a 71-52 decision to the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville.
While the loss probably didn’t hurt the Cats badly in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, it did push the Cats to one game back in SEC play with two games to play before the conference tournament in Nashville.
As the season winds up, it’s a three-team race for the top seed with the Vols and LSU Tigers. Both teams sit at 14-2 in conference and the Cats are 13-3. However, the Tigers currently have tei-breaking wins over both the Vols and Cats, so LSU would have to lose one more game to not win the regular-season crown.
The Cats have two remaining games vs. the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford and Florida Gators at home. LSU has remaining games with Florida on the road and Vanderbilt Commodores at home. UT has the Mississippi State Bulldogs at home and Auburn Tigers on the road.
Considering all three teams will probably be favorites in their games, it’s most likely UK will be the 3 seed in the tournament, which is still a good place to be with double byes going to the top four seeds.
But the 4 seed may be the most interesting of all. As of right now, six teams have a chance to claim that seed and the byes it holds. Those schools at 9-7 and tied for fifth are Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Mississippi State and the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Alabama Crimson Tide sit at 8-8.
Most bracket experts have Tennessee, LSU, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Auburn in the Big Dance. The next group hanging around the bubble are Ole Miss, Florida, and Alabama. South Carolina is hard to figure. The Gamecocks are under .500 at 14-15, but still 9-7 in conference.
Figure in the Arkansas Razorbacks, Georgia Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies, who could upset someone (especially Arkansas), and the makings of one of the better SEC Tournaments in conference history are there.
Over at Team Rankings, they project LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn to finish as the top four seeds, while the Vols are the favorites to win the SEC Tournament: