Where will Cats land in NCAA tourney field?

Published 9:55 am Friday, March 2, 2018

If you haven’t noticed, I like numbers and statistics. Now, that doesn’t mean that I always know what I am doing with them, as witnessed by my lack of ability to balance a checkbook or pass a national teachers test covering mathematics. But I do like numbers, particularly when they talk about probability.

Quick primer. Probability means simply the chance a particular result may occur. What are the chances something happens. There’s your daily math lesson. You’re most welcome.

After watching the Kentucky Wildcats’ final regular season home game, defeating the Ole Miss Rebels 96-78 on Wednesday night, I’ve tried to get an idea of what seed the Cats will have in the field of 68 in the NCAA Tournament. But after watching college basketball over the course of the year, I have come to a startling conclusion: you can’t get an idea about anything this season. Too much parity, too many upsets and no true dominant teams. Ugh.

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But for our purposes, I have somewhat of an idea of how I think the Cats will set up shop in the brackets. My ideas premise on these concepts:

The Cats win out in the regular season finale against Florida on the road.

The Cats win at least two games in the SEC Tournament.

The Cats’ RPI and strength of schedule carry a lot of weight with the selection committee.

So without further adieu, let’s take a look at how Big Blue could land in the NCAA Tournament.

Cats as a one seed? Probability – Not likely. I do think that the four top seeds will be Villanova, Virginia, Xavier and Kansas. That’s my guess if all four of those teams win out in their conference tournaments.

Cats as a two seed? Probability – Not feeling that either. There’s still a group of five to six teams in front of UK for that seed. Two seeds can also be a popularity contest of sorts too. Kentucky doesn’t always finish well in those nationally.

Cats as a three seed? Probability – Now we’re getting somewhere. If they win all the way out to the SEC title, I feel like the Cats have a fair chance to get a three. UK has a pretty good portfolio and is peaking at the right time.

Cats as a four seed? Probability – The highest chance in my view. It’s possible the Cats lose once before the tournament draw. If they do, I think UK has the best chance to land here.

Cats as a five seed? Probability – Possible if they lose twice (lose to Florida and in the SEC tournament.) Over the years in the Big Dance, several upsets occur when the 12 seed beats the five in the first round. I wouldn’t feel great if UK has a five seed.

Cats as a six seed or lower? Probability – Not likely. The Cats have too good of an RPI and strength of schedule to fall this far in my opinion. It also helps UK that as many as 10 SEC schools could be selected on Selection Sunday. Usually if you’re good in a good conference the NCAA Selection Committee smiles upon you.

So there you have it. In my humble estimation, the Kentucky Wildcats will be a three or a four seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Hoping for a three, expecting a four. Where do you think Big Blue winds up this year? I’m pretty sure you know more than I do, especially when it comes to math.

Shane Shackleford is a regional sports columnist. You can contact him via email at coachshack50@gmail.com, Twitter @shack_daddy_1, and Facebook.