Is UK Headed Toward the NIT and Not the NCAAs…with No Major Injury to Blame?
Whether they've said it out loud or even wanted to think it, the idea of this year's Kentucky Wildcats missing the NCAA Tournament and landing in the NIT has to have crossed Big Blue Nation's mind.
It's crossed MY mind.
Now, at this point, if the season were to end right now, the 'Cats would make it into the Big Dance.
They have two excellent wins in their backpockets--Louisville and the road triumph at West Virginia.
Interestingly, those are NON-conference opponents. Makes me wonder if it's this unusually tough SEC that could be their post-season undoing.
At present, ESPN projects EIGHT teams from the Southeastern Conference into the NCAA Tournament.
The conference has never landed more than six.
It's a good year for SEC hoops. And that's translated into a TOUGH year for the youngest team in all of college basketball, and easily the youngest Kentucky team ever.
The 'Cats were NIT-bound in 2013 after star Nerlens Noel suffered a season-ending injury. And they were promptly eliminated by Robert Morris.
Five years ago, you could justifiably POINT to that injury as the culprit since UK went steadily and quickly downhill after.
But this year, it's just that a whole lot of freshmen are taking a lot longer to understand what they need to understand in order to improve.
Kentucky Insider columnist Kyle Tucker has identified some problems and put up the red flag (oops, wrong color).
And when you take into account that six of their final seven games--@Texas A&M, @Auburn, Alabama, @Arkansas, Missouri, and @Florida--are all against possible or likely post-season teams, it's hard to say where they are definitely going to pick up a win, based on what we've seen over the course of the past week.
In all honesty, I believe they'll get into the tournament. I just can't imagine UK is going 1-6 to finish up the season. If they pick up any three wins from that group, they'll have a decent enough resume to get in. For one thing, they don't have any truly bad losses.
An entire Nation of Big Blue fans is behind these kids. Let's see what happens.