Kentucky's Demise Greatly Exaggerated After Vanderbilt Loss

Andrew PerkinsCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2008

By a show of hands, who had the Kentucky Wildcats left for dead after their 41-point beating at the hands of Vandy?

Shame on you.

It’s interesting how a team that had won five straight games, which included a win over Tennessee and two road rumbles, had been hated so much after one horrible game against an extremely dominant home-court team in Vandy.

I wanted to make a point of that right after the game, but I couldn’t. The waves of hateration were too strong, too intimidating. I couldn’t step out and, as an unbiased third-party observer with no interest in Wildcat well being whatsoever, let the world know they shouldn’t give up on Gillispie and Co.

Now, as of this moment, Kentucky has won eight of its last nine. After a dismal 7-9 start, the ’Cats have a 15-10 overall record and sit in second place in the SEC East behind No. 1 Tennessee. Let it be known they have not lost a conference game in Rupp Arena.

While we all want to vilify them because of losses at home to Gardner Webb and San Diego, should we not also praise them for wins against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas?

Right now, the Wildcats are 65th in RPI with a 14th-ranked SOS. The selection committee loves hot teams, and who’s to say that Kentucky won’t win three of its last four? Combine that with a win or two in the SEC Tournament and they would be a very tempting option.

That would put them somewhere around 19 or 20-12 with probably higher than a 50 RPI and a great SOS. And, they’d have won 12 of 15 or 13 of 16 to end the year.

Add this into account: The big three of Patterson, Bradley, and Crawford have missed one game apiece. Role players Perry Stevenson and Mark Coury are the only two guys who have played in all 25 games. After them, the most games played by a single player are 21, followed by 19, 16, 14, and 11.

Add that to the whole Alex Legion mess, and the fact that Kentucky is still in discussion seems very logical now.

I understand the Vandy smackdown was bad, but let’s not count the Wildcats out just yet.