The Cats stumbled to the end of the regular season rather than hitting their stride like many had expected. They closed out the season by losing three of four games with the only win being at home against a bad Alabama team. As postseason play looms on the horizon John Calipari and his team hope to hit the reset button and start fresh. That may be easier said than done considering the likely fragile confidence of this team. If Kentucky hopes to play more than one game in the NCAA tournament it is likely crucial that they get some momentum in the SEC tourney.
Kentucky is the two seed intournament and will play the winner of Alabama and LSU on Friday night at 7pm. If the Cats hope to get things rolling it will likely have to begin with a win against LSU whom they have struggled with. The Tigers beat Kentucky in Baton Rouge and lost in overtime when they met again in Rupp Arena. If the teams meet for a third time the one positive is that Kentucky will not overlook them in the least.
The rest of the bracket is laid out relatively well for the Cats if they can get that first win under their belts. They would most likely play either Georgia or Ole Miss in their next game which would lead to the finals. The other half of the bracket is loaded with solid teams in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Florida. If the Cats can get to the finals they only have to deal with one of those teams.
John Calipari has often said that the conference tournament doesn’t really matter to him but for the second year in a row that won’t be the case. He knows that this tournament is huge for Kentucky in terms of confidence and seeding. At this point the Cats are projected as either a 6 or a 7 seed for the NCAA tournament. A first round loss could potentially push them down to an 8 or 9 seed if not worse. A couple good wins could propel the Cats to a 6 or perhaps even a 5 seed. More importantly it could help get this team believe that it can win some games in March.
The SEC tournament is typically over run with Kentucky fans and Atlanta has become known as Catlanta in tourney time. More than ever this young team will need all the help it can get from Big Blue Nation. If the Georgia Dome is turned in to Rupp Arena south it will give the Cats a huge advantage. Coming off a frustrating season it is yet to be seen if fans will travel in droves or not. One thing about UK fans is that they typically continue to show up even when the chips are down.
In postseason play the name of the game is simply to survive and advance. The only guarantee left for this team is that they will play at least two more games this year. Everything else is now in their hands and what they make of the situation. Big Blue Nation is collectively saying one thing to this team, “just win baby”.