KSTV's Wednesday Morning Roundup: Nerlens Raps and SEC Tournament Scenarios
03/05/2013 09:55 PM
Here’s a look back at what you might have missed Tuesday while you were watching those old WWF VHS tapes, celebrating the life of the late Paul Bearer…
UK In Good Shape To Get #2 Seed In SEC Tournament
Missouri blew out Arkansas Tuesday night and Ole Miss held on at home against Alabama, UK’s chances of earning the second-seed in the SEC Tournament increased dramatically. The Cats now have a one-game lead on the trio of Missouri, Alabama and Ole Miss for the second place spot and if they win out, they’ll enter the tournament as the #2 seed.
However, if the Cats finish the regular season 1-1, splitting games with Georgia and Alabama, Tuesday’s results still put UK in a position to remain in second place. The Cats would drop into a four-way tie with the other three schools and, based on SEC tie-breaker rules, would earn the higher seed. The first tie-breaker goes to the team with the best head-to-head record among the teams tied. UK and Missouri are both 2-1, Ole Miss is 2-2 and Alabama is 1-2. The Cats obviously hold the tie-breaker with Missouri after beating them at Rupp February 23.
Of course, that scenario is based on the other three teams winning out. For their final game, Missouri is on the road at Tennessee – a team currently projected in the tournament (more on that in a minute). Ole Miss is at LSU and Alabama has Georgia at home. It’s quite possible that all three teams win games they’ll probably be favored in (Missouri could be a slight underdog), leaving the original scenario intact. However, should any of the three teams lose, the scenarios get shaken up a bit, with only one really leaving the Cats without the second slot.
If the Tigers lose in Knoxville and Ole Miss drops what should be a gimme game in Baton Rouge, Kentucky falls into a tie with Alabama, the only team that holds the tiebreaker over the Cats.
However, if Missouri simply beats Tennessee OR Ole Miss holds off LSU and UK can win one of their two final games, the Cats will lock up the #2 seed in the SEC Tournament. Either scenario would result in a three-way tie, with UK winning the tie-breaker in all scenarios. A three-way tie between UK, Missouri and Ole Miss goes Kentucky’s way because they’ve beaten both teams. A three-way tie between UK, Missouri and Alabama would favor the Cats because all teams are 1-1 against each other and only Kentucky went undefeated against Ole Miss, which would be the next tiebreaker. Likewise, if the Cats finish in a three-way tie with Ole Miss and Alabama, all teams would have a 1-1 record, but UK would win the tiebreaker because of their win against Missouri.
That’s a lot of scenarios, but it pretty much boils down to this: If UK wins out, they’re the two-seed. If there’s a four-way tie or a three-way tie, they’re the two-seed. If there’s a two-way tie between them and Ole Miss or Missouri, they’re the two seed. The only scenario where UK would slip the the three is if they finished tied with Alabama, which, though possible, seems unfavorable at this point.
NCAA Tournament Chances Improve During Night Off
Just as UK’s grip on the number-two spot in the conference tightened on a night where they weren’t in action, the Cats took a slight bump in their tournament hopes as well – according to Joe Lunardi at least.
Kentucky moved up one spot in the projections of ESPN’s Bracketologist, checking in now as the first team out, replacing Alabama, which lost to Missouri and fell three slots in Lunardi’s projections. Still ahead of the Cats in the “Last Four In” are Iowa State (19-10, 9-7), Temple (21-8, 9-5), Villanova (18-12, 9-8) and Tennessee (17-11, 9-7).
Villanova will likely lose its final game to Georgetown and enter the Big East Tournament at 18-13 overall and as the league’s ninth-place team. Tennessee will likely split with Auburn and Missouri, finishing 10-8 in the conference and 18-12 overall. Iowa State will probably split games with Oklahoma State and West Virginia, finishing 5th in the Big 12. Temple likely will also split with Fordham and VCU and finish as low as 7th in the A-10.
Assuming the Cats handle their business against Georgia and aren’t embarrassed at home versus Florida, they should be able to feel pretty good about their NCAA Tournament chances heading into the SEC Tournament. Putting resumes and RPI and everything else aside, it’s hard to think that the SEC’s second-place team would be snubbed in favor of the fifth-place team in the Atlantic 10 or the ninth-place team in the Big East. And, to go even further, if Tennessee drops one more regular season game and Arkansas can put away Texas A&M at Bud Walton, the Vols will be the SEC’s seven-seed…meaning they’d draw UK in the second round. The Cats would essentially control their own destiny in a way at that point, assuming there aren’t too many surprise automatic qualifiers.
But all of that madness starts with a win in Athens Thursday. It’s a game that Kentucky absolutely has to win in order to get in to the tournament.
Thursday Night Football
ESPN announced Tuesday that UK’s football game with Mississippi State will be played on Thursday October 24, marking the first time Commonwealth Stadium will host a Thursday night game.
At first, weekday games were something of a gimmick and there was a perception that being involved was a nation-wide assertion that your program was second-tier. But over the last several years, Thursday night games have become a national staple of the college football slate and served to exponentially raise the profile of the teams involved. For Kentucky, a program trying to renew its identity under Mark Stoops and establish itself as more of a national presence, getting the opportunity to play in primetime on ESPN is a huge score. Getting to do it against a team that is beatable makes it even more valuable. Good news for the football program.
Be sure to set your DVRs for Sunday March 17 at 8pm as a documentary called “Bluegrass Kingdom: The Gospel of Kentucky Basketball” premieres on TruTV right after the NCAA Tournament brackets are released. The film is directed by Michael Tolajian, who wrote and directed ESPN’s “Once Brothers”, a fantastic portrayal of Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac. It will also be narrated by Drake.
One out two isn’t bad, I gues.
Nerlens Noel Raps
As our own Andrew Bishop so eloquently stated in his pre-Vandy pep talk, “Nerlens Noel is hurt. He ain’t dead.” And with that in mind, Nerlens will be thrusting himself back into the spotlight Wednesday when his song with Lexington rapper Wes Grams, “Number 9” is released. It won’t be Grams’ first foray into UK rap lore as you may remember the performance below with Terrence Jones from last year.
Be sure to watch KSTV Wednesday as we check in from the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen and hear from Mark Krebs in L.A. on what where he thinks this team is headed and how a team must do some soul-searching when faced with the potential of an NIT. Plus, Evan Daniels from Fox Sports stops by with the latest on Andrew Wiggins and where Julius Randle stands as he prepares to pick his school.