UK had already clinched the No. 1 seed coming into Saturday’s action, but who their first opponent could be had yet to be determined, as they would face the winner of the 8 vs. 9 game that will take place next Thursday.
Tennessee clinched the 8 seed with their loss at home to Auburn on Saturday, while Alabama gets the 9 seed following their loss at Missouri.
I don’t think there’s any question the majority of Big Blue Nation is hoping to get Tennessee on Friday and a chance to atone for blowing a 17-point lead at Rupp Arena vs. the Vols this past Tuesday, who ultimately won 81-73, handing the Cats just their second home loss this season.
UK went 1-1 vs. Tennessee in the regular season after previously winning in Knoxville, 77-64. The Cats played Alabama just once, winning 76-67 in early January. Ironically, both of those games saw Immanuel Quickley hit dagger three-pointers late to clinch both wins.
Whoever UK faces, it will be a team that almost certainly has to win the SEC Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament. Both the Vols and Crimson Tide have shown flashes of being teams worthy of making the field of 68, but each team has too many bad losses to make it without getting the automatic bid that the winner of the conference tournament will earn.
UK has actually played Alabama in each of the last four SEC Tournament while playing Tennessee in the last two. UK went 4-0 vs. the Crimson Tide during that stretch but 1-1 vs. the Vols, including last year’s defeat in a game that saw UK blow a late eight-point lead.