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 KenPom.com, 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.
Tweet of the Morning
Never underestimate the power of women, but especially those in a Kentucky uniform. Happy #InternationalWomensDay ! #WeAreUK pic.twitter.com/LQ7Wv36eGu— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) March 8, 2019
- Kentucky QB Terry Wilson to receive the Howard Schnellenberger award for the MVP of the Governor’s Cup game vs. Louisville last season. Congrats!
- Keion Brooks, 5-star man of mystery.
- Mark Story asks some famous UK folks when Rupp Arena was the loudest they can remember. Lots of classic memories in this one, even if there doesn’t appear to be a consensus. It’s about as subjective a subject as you can get.
- Calipari watches Matthew Hurt record a triple-double. He reminds me of Kyle Wiltjer.
Speaking of Hurt, Evan Daniels thinks his recruitment is still pretty far from over.
Other Kentucky sports
- The Bat Cats host Middle Tennessee in the final non-conference series of the season. First pitch is today at 4.
- No. 18 UK Softball opens conference play at No. 11 South Carolina.
- LSU could be an SEC champion without a coach, writes John Clay of the Herald-Leader. Ianteasley discussed this yesterday, and it looks bad. Having said that, I encourage all of you to wait for all the facts before reaching a judgment.
- The art of working referees.
- SI writers talk about the matchup they’d like to see most in the NCAA tournament. Duke-Gonzaga seems to be the consensus, but there is a vote for Duke-Kentucky.
- Jim Boeheim won’t be charged in the fatal striking of a pedestrian with his car.
- The case for Frank Martin as SEC Coach of the Year. I think he has a very good case.
Other sports news
- Remembering the Yankee Clipper.
Joe DiMaggio died on this day 20 years ago— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 8, 2019
Even when he stepped off the field for the final time, the Yankee Clipper endured as an American hero: https://t.co/AreOFyFRVn pic.twitter.com/yYHPkZuVQI