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2018 NCAA Tournament Bracketology: Kentucky Wildcats on the rise

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The Cats are climbing up the seed projections.

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Kentucky
Kentucky Wildcats forward Jarred Vanderbilt (2) makes a layup against Alabama Crimson Tide forward Donta Hall (0) in the first half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Alabama 81-71.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

After snapping the longest losing skid of the Calipari era with Saturday’s victory over Alabama, Kentucky moved from an eight seed to a six seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology projections for the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

The long-time ESPN college hoops analyst has Kentucky playing the winner of Baylor/St. Bonaventure in the first-round game in Nashville, which would certainly be a welcome venue for the Big Blue Nation.

With the 2018 SEC Tournament being held outside of Music City for just the second time in the last six years, you have to think that Cats fans would be chomping at the bit for an excuse to get back down to Nashville and paint Broadway blue.

In addition to Kentucky, Lunardi projects seven other SEC teams making the cut for the NCAA Tournament, which would be a record for the conference. According to AL.com, the SEC has never had more than six schools reach an NCAA Tournament in one season.

Here’s a look at how Lunardi seeds all the SEC teams:

  • Auburn (2)
  • Tennessee (4)
  • Florida (6)
  • Kentucky (6)
  • Texas A&M (6)
  • Alabama (7)
  • Missouri (7)
  • Arkansas (10)

If Kentucky could pull off a win at Arkansas Tuesday night, it would mean another “Quadrant 1” win in terms of the team sheet the NCAA uses to evaluate team records for seeding purposes. The Cats are currently 3-7 in Quadrant 1 games. For more on the team sheets and quadrants, check out my post from last week.

Here’s an updated look of UK’s current Team Sheet from the NCAA:

Kentucky Basketball’s Team Sheet as of 2/18/18
via NCAA.org

In terms of current RPI, three of Kentucky’s last four games would be quadrant one games: at Arkansas, vs. Missouri, and at Florida. The other game, against Ole Miss in Rupp, would be a quadrant three game.

So lots of opportunity for the Cats to improve in these last two weeks. Let’s hope they can start by pulling off a win at Arkansas tomorrow.