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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: End of the Regular Season Edition

It’s the Wildcats versus the Gators in Rupp Arena, and the game is very important for both teams, but especially for Florida’s NCAA hopes.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Friday Morning Quickies. Jason was kind enough to switch days to accommodate my schedule this week.

Well, here we are at the last game of the season tomorrow, versus our rival of recent years, Florida. Despite history, the halcyon days of Billy Donovan’s NCAA championship teams created the illusion that UK and Florida are truly historic rivals, and the SEC in their money-grubbing wisdom set it up so we always play each other twice. I have complained about this before, but alas, it is what it is. Those who have lived Kentucky basketball for decades know who our true rivals are in this league, if anyone can be said to be.

That aside, this is an important game for two reasons. First, it is the final home game of the season for UK, as well as the final game of the SEC regular season. Kentucky needs this victory to prove they have regained momentum after the defenestration by Tennessee in Knoxville last Saturday.

Second, even though UK’s bye in the SEC tournament is not really threatened regardless of the outcome, a home loss at this point would look very bad to the NCAA selection committee, and their tournament seed would likely suffer to the point that a 1 seed would, barring unlikely circumstances, be off the table. That seed is worth fighting for.

However, this game is far more important for Florida, as they are currently on the NCAA bubble at one game over .500 in the league. At .500, it will make their selection very dicey, as there are currently six SEC teams that have a much better NCAA argument.

Kentucky’s poor offensive showing recently has led to a 3-spot slide on, and some ugly offensive efficiency numbers. UK is still the best defensive team in the SEC by a mile (Tennessee is second best, a full 2.6 points behind, and nobody else is within 5), but offensively, we are a weak third. Fortunately, Florida is even worse.

As Jason discusses here, we aren’t likely to see Reid Travis on Saturday, even though he has made excellent progress with his knee sprain. I don’t think we’ll need him due to Florida’s lack of size inside, but Kentucky cannot be the best version of itself without him. If we are to make a run at the conference title, we’ll need him in the SEC Tournament. Hopefully, that will happen.

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