Why did Kentucky receive the dreaded eight seed in an incredibly tough region in the NCAA Tournament?
That was the question on the minds of the Big Blue faithful and many other college basketball fans on Selection Sunday.
The eighth-seeded Wildcats will take on Kansas State University on Friday night. In the meantime, why not speculate wildly on the tournament committee’s surprising decision?
Reasons why the Wildcats got the eighth seed:
1. Kentucky lacks “quality” wins and has too many losses.
The Wildcats only defeated four teams ranked in the RPI Top 50 and one in the Top 25.
The Dec. 28 home victory over Louisville, who is ranked fifth in the country according to the most recent AP poll, remains the only signature win for the Wildcats.
Regardless of the lack of quality victories, only two of Kentucky’s losses have come by more than nine points, both against the University of Florida (69-59 on Feb. 15, 85-64 on March 8.)
This means that the young Wildcats have been in contention seemingly every game.
The only team with a stronger schedule than Kentucky is Kansas. KU defeated 12 teams in the RPI Top 50, but lost nine games total. Despite the nine losses, KU received a two seed from the selection committee.
Several teams received a six seed or lower with a weaker schedule on their tournament résumés and only slightly better (or in Baylor’s case, slightly worse) records than Kentucky.
UCLA: four seed, eight losses
VCU: five seed, eight losses
Ohio State: six seed, nine losses
Duke: three seed, eight losses
Michigan: two seed, eight losses
North Carolina: six seed, nine losses
Oklahoma: five seed, nine losses
Baylor: six seed, eleven losses
None of these teams had stronger schedules than Kentucky, so why did the selection committee beat up on the ten-loss, freshmen-led Wildcats?
2. The selection committee is sick of the state of Kentucky.
It is no secret that the state of Kentucky has been the king of college basketball for the last two years. The University of Louisville won the championship last year and Kentucky won in 2012.
Despite being the fifth-rated team in the country, the defending national champion and the American Athletic Conference Tournament Champions, Louisville received only a four seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Just like last season, Louisville is hot at the right at time, having won 12 of its last 13 games.
UK has not exactly captivated the nation in its recent stretch, but the Wildcats did come one point away from defeating Florida in the SEC title game.
3:15 p.m. was the scheduled time for tip-off in the SEC Tournament Championship on Sunday. The relatively-late start time could have angered the selection committee, who historically produce the brackets within three hours of completion of all tournament championship games.
The selection committee may have told the conference to go ahead and schedule the game so that it ends after 5 p.m. and they would go ahead and place Kentucky in the eighth-seed slot.
Maybe the selection committee felt rushed and decided the Wildcats were done for when down by 15 points in the second half, before the Wildcats rallied back and nearly stunned the Gators.
Either way, the entire state of Kentucky was upset on Sunday evening after the seeding was announced and the two most popular teams received surprisingly high seeds and placement in the same region.
The selection committee might as well have thrown 15-seed Eastern Kentucky University into the Midwest region to further impede a team from the state of Kentucky’ ability to win the championship.
3. The selection committee has little to no respect for the SEC.
In football, the second-best team in the SEC might be considered good enough to be selected to the National Championship game (Alabama 2011.)
Kentucky was the second best team in the SEC in the regular season and tournament but received the equivalent of the Beef ’O’ Brady Bowl selection in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The University of Tennessee (21-12) has to fight for the chance to be the 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Universities of Missouri (22-11) and Arkansas (22-11) both received an invitation to a postseason tournament, the NIT, as did Louisiana State University (19-13.)
Excluding top-ranked Florida, the selection committee gave as much respect to the SEC as Star Wars fans gave to Jar-Jar Binks in Episode I.
The selection committee must have felt that the conference was actually the FGC (Florida Gator Conference) as no other team is truly prestigious enough for the royal tournament’s top seven seeding.
The Wildcats did not receive the ideal seed as they must face a tough Kansas State team in the first round. If the Wildcats are fortunate enough to defeat KSU, they will likely face the one-seeded, undefeated Wichita State Shockers.
Kentucky may have lost ten games, be led by five freshmen and is seriously lacking in the quality-wins category, but nearly defeating the number one team in the nation and receiving the eight seed on Sunday may be the inspiration the Wildcats need for yet another deep NCAA Tournament run.