Kentucky Basketball: Breaking Down Every Scenario for Wildcats in SEC Tournament

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Kentucky Basketball: Breaking Down Every Scenario for Wildcats in SEC Tournament
USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky earned a No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament with a win over Florida on the last day of the regular season. Still, the next week will play a huge part in the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats have an interesting profile that features good wins over the Gators and Missouri. They also have a few bad losses to teams like Georgia, Texas A&M and Arkansas.

Additionally, the selection committee has to re-evaluate the squad since Nerlens Noel went down with a torn ACL. Kentucky is only 4-3 since the center's injury, 

Every game the team plays in the conference tournament will affect its chances of getting an at-large bid and its potential seed in March Madness. Here is a breakdown of what will happen based on possible results for the Wildcats.

 

Loss in Quarterfinal 

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With a double-bye, Kentucky's first game will be in the quarterfinals against the winner of Vanderbilt and Arkansas. 

The Wildcats have already lost in recent weeks to Arkansas, a game that almost took them out of postseason consideration altogether. It is tough to imagine the committee looking kindly on another bad loss.

Neither Vanderbilt nor Arkansas should be able to contend with a team looking for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. A loss would also once again show Kentucky's inconsistency with the third loss in four games to end the year.

The profile would simply not be good enough to warrant a bid.

Prediction: OUT

 

Loss in Semifinal

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If Texas A&M or Auburn somehow reach the semifinals and beat Kentucky, this would be an even worse loss and it would knock the bubble team out of the tournament. Of course, this is not the likeliest of scenarios.

A loss to Missouri would not be considered terrible and it would likely keep Kentucky in the field. However, losing to Ole Miss would certainly make things interesting.

The Rebels are also right on the bubble and are looking to impress the committee with a big performance in the SEC tournament. If spots start running out, it would not be surprising if this is considered a play-in game for an at-large bid.

This situation would lead to the NCAA tournament chances being about as good as a coin flip. Unless Tennessee or Alabama beat Florida on the other side of the bracket, however, this could be enough.

Prediction: In as No. 12 seed

 

Loss in Final

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC tournament is truly up in the air. Florida is expected to reach the finals, but it would not be surprising to see a few other teams pull an upset.

If Kentucky makes a run to the championship and loses a close game to Florida, the team would not only be in the tournament but would probably move up to about a No. 9 seed. Almost everyone gets a loss at this point in the year, but the Wildcats will have a respectable one.

The seed might be slightly lower if another team beats them in the finals, but it will be much more likely to see the Gators on Sunday. 

Prediction: In as No. 10 seed

 

Win SEC tournament

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On Selection Sunday, the committee always rewards teams that are peaking at the right time. Although Kentucky lost a few games recently, it would be hard to deny a winning run in the conference tournament.

The Wildcats will have four straight wins, with possibly two against Florida, as they prove they are past the loss of Noel entering the tournament.

Obviously, Kentucky would earn an automatic bid, but fans will be long past that mindset. A conference title could earn the squad as high as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament.

With plenty of momentum on their side, this would be a dangerous team in March.

Prediction: In as No. 6 seed

 

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