“Selection Sunday” is filled with many disagreements and “should have beens”, and “I can’t believe it” but the one thing that has been consistent in disagreement is that road wins have not been looked at in the right way for a long time. This summer it was decided that this would be the case no longer. The NCAA officially announced that road wins will be looked at. This redefines what a quality win is for the selection committee. In the past, team sheets have divided results into four columns: results against the top 50 teams in the NCAA’s Rating Percentage Index; 51-100; 101-200; and any team ranked 201 or lower. Effective immediately, meaning the 2017-2018 season, team sheets will place greater emphasis on where the games are played rather than the ranking of each opponent. So, with all of this some of you may be asking, what does this mean for the Cats? Well, I think it could go two ways. But, first lets look at the road wins that we do have coming up:
Nov. 14- KU vs. UK @ United Center in Chicago: No surprise to anyone this one is quite possibly the matchup of the year. With UK losing last years matchup in Rupp, this new class is going to be hungry to take care of business. I expect this to be a little bit of a challenge for the Cats but ultimately feel there is too much star power on Calipari’s squad to not pull this one out after Self’s begging recruiting trail this past recruiting class.
Dec. 23- UCLA vs. UK @ Smoothie King Center in New Orleans: The rivalry that began with an upset continues on this year. UK fans get another shot at embarrassing yet another Ball brother with Liangelo Ball heading this team with a load of other 5 star freshman. This in my opinion will be Kentucky’s first true test of the year as far as handling large amounts of star power. UCLA finished out at #2 in the recruiting class just under UK. I can only imagine how high scoring and fast paced the offenses will be. All in all I also think that this could be our first loss of the season very easily, this will come down to depth at each position and how well each team is playing by the time it gets to this game. Coaching, the way teams are gelling together are two main factors going into this game.
Jan. 30- WVU vs. UK @ WVU Coliseum: This game is what I will say now and expect to say until we get to it, this will give us a pretty good idea whether we have chance at #9 or not, and it does not depend on whether or not we win. I do think that even if we lose we could be just fine. This game being in such a hostile environment will allow us to see how our very young team has matured with a couple months until “show time”! What to look for even if we lose is first and foremost 1.) How close the game is, if the game is close then that means we were a few plays away which is easily fixable with some film and coaching. 2.) The chemistry on the floor, how the guys react to one another and the sharing or lack there of will be a big sign of where we are. The main thing that fans of even other teams noted on with our 2012 team was jus how purely unselfish everyone was and how no matter where you were on the team you had a role and everyone did there best to do that role. 3.) Shooting, finally this is one of the biggest things to look for right under chemistry, and some may say its even a bigger deal than chemistry on the floor. Shooting in the tournament is a requirement for any team to make any type of run in the tournament, let alone win the whole thing.
Mar. 3- UofF vs UK @ Stephen C. O’Connel Center: This game has been a battle the last couple of years and last year was one that we lost by 22 points. Yes. I know its painful to remember but yes, my facts are right and it was THAT bad. So, it goes without saying that we have some revenge to take on the veteran Florida Gators team this upcoming season and it is not going to be an easy one. This Florida team is one that has people thinking that they can make a final four run much like they did in 2014 with experienced guys overpowering the stars.
The point being, Kentucky has many chances to have some great wins going on their resume to send into the selection committee to help real in another #1 seed for Calipari and company. I see Kentucky dropping only 1 of these games, and by the off chance that we were able to win them all, it would ensure a #1 seed which would be huge going forward to try to snag another title. But, lets not get ahead of ourselves. I think that this tea could be very special but we will just have to hold out and wait for their first game against Utah Valley University to see the march begin in our Regular Season Opener. This team could be great but the promise for the team begins and ends with the sharing of the ball. It will be an interesting season especially with the new rule of road games meaning more. This should make SEC play even harder than usual. This will make the perpetual target on our back throughout conference play even worse, but it will only prepare us better for the tournament. It is 2 months and 2 days until official tip-off, are you ready? GO CATS!
(Photo Courtesy of NCAA)
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