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Kentucky’s remaining Quad 1 opportunities

The Tennessee rematch looms large.

Kentucky v Tennessee Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

As most of us already know, the Kentucky Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament resume is not very pretty right now.

While they hold a 15-7 record, only one of those wins is a Quad 1 win, and one of the losses is a Quad 4 home loss. Also, just three other wins even fall in Quad 2. Being just seven games above .500 isn’t helping either, but the massive Tennessee road win last month is giving them juuuust enough to hold steady in the brackets, albeit in the First Four range of many bracketology projections.

For a refresher, here’s how the NCAA’s quadrant system works using the NET rankings (Kentucky is ranked 33rd as of Wednesday evening).

  • Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353

If they want to make a March run and avoid any sweating on Selection Sunday, they need to step up this February. Here are their remaining opportunities for Quad 1 paydirt.

2/7: Arkansas Razorbacks (maybe)

This is a fringe Quad 1 home game, and whether the Hogs win or lose the game before this one will determine it. They’re only playing South Carolina (though on the road), so they should be fine. Root for them to win that one and UK can have a Quad 1 opportunity next Tuesday night.

2/15: @ Mississippi State Bulldogs

This roadie’s definitely going to fall into Quad 1 when it happens, and it’ll be a big opportunity since the Bulldogs aren’t a dominating opponent like Kansas, and UK almost always wins in their building (haven’t lost there yet under Cal). I think the Cats will get a much-needed boost from this one.

2/18: Tennessee Volunteers

The one we’ve all been waiting for. Could an unranked UK team beat a top-five Tennessee team twice in the same season? The Vols will definitely be looking to make up for the loss in Knoxville, but BBN will fight fiercely to defend home.

2/22: @ Florida Gators

Wow, February is loaded! UK’s bracket problems will be gone in a flash if they can just get a winning streak going this month. They’ve won the last several in Gainesville—just keep the momentum going.

2/25: Auburn Tigers (maybe)

Another home maybe, as the Tigers are on the borderline of dividing Quad 1 home wins and Quad 2 home wins. If this was on the road, it’d definitely be Quad 1, but regardless, this is one the Cats need to win.

3/4: @ Arkansas Razorbacks

Definitely Quad 1 on the road for the regular season finale. They played a thriller down there last year and the atmosphere should be just the same this time around. This may be the game that ensures the Cats make the field of 68 if they’re victorious in Fayetteville, but that’s easier said than done, especially if Nick Smith returns to the lineup following his absence due to a knee injury.

Of course, we can’t forget about the SEC Tournament, where Kentucky could potentially rack up multiple Quad 1/2 wins just by making it to the title game, and winning it would obviously lock in the Cats’ spot in the Big Dance.

Opportunities abound in this backloaded SEC slate for the Cats! Let’s cheer them on all month—they’ve come a long way since that South Carolina loss and just notched another victory last night in Oxford, Mississippi.

Go Cats!