John Calipari schedules in a very particular way for the Kentucky Wildcats, generally avoiding true-road games in favor of neutral court events for two reasons:
There are no true road games in the NCAA Tournament, but lots of neutral court games (in fact they are all neutral court games) and also for seeding improvement.
Each regular season UK knows that the higher seed they get, the better off they will be in the tourney.
2 seeds have easier Final Four paths than 3 seeds, and 1 seeds are definitely where it’s at.
So, how can UK manage the rest of the regular season in a way that’ll get them on the top line on Selection Sunday?
Doing these things could make it happen.
3. Hope Auburn loses a game or two and then beat them in the SEC Tournament
While UK won’t get a chance to avenge the Auburn loss in Rupp, odds are these squads will face off again in the SEC Tournament championship game. If UK can knock off the Tigers in a rematch, they might have a shot at taking their 1-seed if the Tigers lose a couple prior to the postseason.
2. Sweep Alabama
Baylor and Gonzaga are both projected 1-seeds that have lost to Alabama, and Houston is a projected 2-seed. The Kentucky Wildcats will play the Tide at least twice, if not a third time in the SEC Tournament. Imagine seeding those teams ahead of UK if the ‘Cats sweep a team that both lost to. Of all UK’s remaining opponents, the two Alabama schools are the biggest wins they can reel in
1. Avoid bad losses while hoping for chaos among the other Top-10 teams
What’s driving UK right now is dominating wins over Tennessee and Kansas, which are doing a nice job of covering up the Notre Dame loss. Also helping is that the Fighting Irish have put themselves firmly in the NCAA Tournament bubble, making the loss not look as bad as it first did. The Wildcats already have the disadvantage of having four losses, more than rest of the Top-10, but might still be able to take a couple more given how brutal their SEC schedule is. A loss to, say, Ole Miss or Florida though, would be unacceptable. They can’t lose to an unranked team the rest of the way.
If UK does these things they’ll have a shot at the top seed line, which they haven’t gotten to since the 2015 38-1 team. I think this team can make the Final Four, and getting a 1-seed would sure make it a whole lot easier. Go ‘Cats!