Kentucky is far from a bubble team, but the big question for the Wildcats is just how far they can climb in the March Madness seeding. The Wildcats are in a good position to potentially be a No. 1 seed with a strong SEC tournament.
After taking on Ole Miss, Kentucky finishes up the regular season against Florida. A win against either squad does not do much to bolster their resume. The Wildcats likely need to win the SEC tournament to have a good chance at securing a No. 1 seed.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Kentucky as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region taking on No. 16 San Houston St. The Wildcats second-round opponent in his bracket projection would either be No. 8 UCF or No. 9 Texas.
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm believes Kentucky has some work to do to get on the top line. Palm has Kentucky as a No. 2 seed taking on No. 15 Loyola-Chicago in the South region in Columbus. No. 7 Iowa or No. 10 Washington would be the Wildcats second-round opponent under this projection.
Ultimately, either Tennessee or Kentucky are the favorites to get a No. 1 seed based on who wins the SEC tournament. Losing to the Vols over the weekend did not help Kentucky’s chances, but the Wildcats could have an opportunity for potential revenge in the title game if both teams avoid an early upset. It is something Kentucky head coach John Calipari expects to happen.
“We will definitely see them again,” Calipari told 247 Sports. “Obviously we will end up seeing each other in the SEC tournament. It will be a good battle. The rivalry is great. We are going to see them again soon.”
Kentucky Has 9 Q1 Wins So Far This Season
According to Hero Sports, Kentucky is 9-2 in Quadrant 1 games. Kentucky’s chances for a deep tournament run depends largely on the play of P.J. Washington. ESPN’s Myron Medcalf detailed what factors will work for and against Kentucky when March Madness rolls around.
Why they will: Kentucky has launched one of the most impressive turnarounds this year and evolved into a national title contender behind the emergence of PJ Washington (14.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 44 percent from beyond the arc), now an All-America candidate, and Tyler Herro, a reliable shooter who has made 42 percent of his shots from the 3-point line in SEC play.
Why they won’t: Entering Saturday’s loss to Tennessee, Kentucky’s opponents had made 49 percent of their shots inside the arc when Herro, Reid Travis (who is expected to return at some point from a knee injury) and Ashton Hagans — all listed as average defenders in isolation by Synergy Sports — were on the floor together, per hooplens.com. That reality makes potential foul trouble for Washington — a challenge in the first half against the Vols — a nightmare scenario that could ruin Kentucky’s Final Four dreams.