Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now

Despite L at Arkansas, UK's tourney chances remain unchanged

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

But how? How can that be? With Kentucky, a fringe tournament team, taking a loss against NIT-bound Arkansas, why doesn't this hurt the Wildcats' chances?

Because, in my humble estimation, the scenario has been the same for Kentucky since Nerlens Noel was lost for the year. It's more about good wins than run-of-the-mill losses for UK. The team needs to show it can rack up another quality win or two. At the time of Noel's injury, UK had seven SEC games remaining on the regular-season schedule. Factor in one SEC tourney game at least, and that's eight games, minimally. I thought UK would need six wins in that stretch to make claim to/have a chance at a bid.

And after falling 73-60 at Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, Kentucky is 3-2 since Noel's injury. So three more wins are still required, regardless of how they come. This all remains unchanged from where Kentucky sat Saturday morning, earlier this week, even 10 days ago. Compile the wins, boys.

Next up, the Wildcats have a road game against Georgia (I'm not sure how tricky this one will be; Georgia did beat Tennessee at home on Saturday, though) and then finish up the slate next Saturday at home against Florida. Then comes the SEC tournament. One win there could be enough. Two would close the discussion. UK would be in, because it would, by nature, bypass other fringe teams in the process.

Still, UK fans, plenty of them, are frustrated after this one against Arkansas. It was a high-turnover affair and another disappearing act for Alex Poythress and Julius Mays. The point guard play was ... shoddy. Archie Goodwin, who's from Little Rock, had a homecoming that went a bit awry. He had 14 points but overall lacked impact to keep Kentucky apace with the Hogs.

I know plenty of other Wildcats fans have long given up on this team in the big picture because they're frustrated with the way they play. (I know some of them personally.) Today is a reminder of that. But those still clinging to hope for some NCAA success, it's out there. It's just going to take three more wins.

Lose at Georgia? Then you'd better beat Florida and reach the SEC semis. Beat Georgia but lose to Florida? Do the same. But win the next two? One SEC tourney victory should carry enough coin to buy Kentucky's way into the bracket. The NCAA tournament is always better when Kentucky's in it. It has only missed the tourney once since 1991 (2009), and I personally don't see reason why 2009 will be repeated. I think Kentucky squeezes its way in -- barely.

Just don't lose to Georgia on Thursday.


For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to the thrice-a-week podcast on iTunes. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander.

CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre

Latest Video

September 19, 2014
Jim Boeheim on the Doug Gottlieb Show (10:12)
1 June 18, 2014
Gary Parrish on VT Coach Buzz Williams
(8:17)
2 June 3, 2014
Gary Parrish on Auburn's Bruce Pearl
(5:59)
3 April 9, 2014
Parrish on Derrick Gordon coming out
(6:24)

Latest

Most Popular

CBSSports.com Shop

Mens Baltimore Orioles Majestic Charcoal 2014 AL East Division Champions Locker Room T-Shirt

MLB Division Champs Gear
Get your team today
Shop Now