This has been a season of firsts for the University of Kentucky basketball team under John Calipari. UK has lost two home games, the first two of Calipari’s tenure, and lost to archrival Louisville for the first time since Coach Cal came to Lexington. Even the wins have drawn Calipari’s ire, leading him to make several references to the NIT early in the season. Indeed, UK has struggled to find quality wins while also struggling to (largely) avoid damaging losses. Their current 5 game winning streak has improved their RPI to a respectable 49, and Andy Glockner's most recent bracket estimate on SI.com had UK (18-6, 8-2) safely inside the tournament field as a #9 seed.
I can’t imagine the #1 seed that would look forward to playing UK and Coach Cal in the 2nd round.
However, while studying brackets in February may be a good distraction from…well February, it’s not a very useful exercise. The matchup tonight is a major reason why. Florida (19-3, 9-1) comes into the game with a stellar RPI (4) and undefeated at home. They also haven’t beat UK in over 2 years, and would fall into second place in the SEC East with a loss tonight. Currently UK’s best win is the on the road at Ole Miss two weeks ago, however since that game Ole Miss has been blown out by Florida and Missouri, and is only two spots ahead of UK in the RPI.
Such is life in college basketball, the goalposts keep moving on you. Beat a team in the top 25 and feel great about yourself, until that team continues to lose and falls out of the top 25, then you need another quality win. That’s one thing UK doesn’t need to worry about tonight, a win against Florida will stay a quality win, and go a long way towards moving UK down that seed line come March.
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