How the loss impacted Kentucky's SEC and NCAA Tournament resumes
It’s nearly midnight on Tuesday, February the seventh in the year of our Lord 2023, and your University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball team just lost a home game to SEC rival Arkansas in Rupp Arena by 15 points. Now, the Wildcats are firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble less than four weeks away from the end of the regular season.
As unimaginable as this scenario would’ve been in November when Kentucky tipped off the year with a No. 4 preseason ranking and national championship aspirations, today the Wildcats fell to 16-8 in 2022-23 with a third straight loss to Eric Musselman’s Arkansas in the series and the second loss in Rupp in three home games.
Last Four In
Joe Lunardi has not updated his Bracketology since Kentucky added another loss to its tournament resume, but before the game, Lunardi noted the loser of Kentucky-Arkansas would drop from his Last Four Byes to the Last Four In. That means Kentucky would be in a play-in game if the tournament started tomorrow.
The full tournament projection will come out on Wednesday.
Another Quad 1 loss and missed opportunity in the NET
Arkansas entered the game ranked No. 29 in the NET, therefore it’s yet another Quad 1 loss for the Wildcats. Kentucky is now 1-7 in Quad 1 games this season plus a Quad 4 loss to South Carolina, No. 276.
Here’s a breakdown of Kentucky’s quadrant wins and losses:
QUAD 1 (1-7)
Wins: at Tennessee
Losses: at Alabama, UCLA, Kansas, at Gonzaga, at Missouri, Michigan State, Arkansas
QUAD 2 (6-0)
Wins: Yale, Texas A&M, at Vanderbilt, Michigan, at Ole Miss, Florida
QUAD 3 (3-0)
Wins: Georgia, Duquesne, LSU
QUAD 4 (6-1)
Wins: Howard, Bellarmine, North Florida, Louisville, South Carolina State, Florida A&M
Losses: South Carolina
Looking ahead, Kentucky still has Quad 1 win opportunities against Tennessee in Rupp Arena and on the road at Mississippi State, Florida, and Arkansas.
Auburn is one spot out of a Quad 1 ranking so root for the Tigers to climb into a Quad 1 opportunity too. The Tigers lost tonight at Texas A&M so that won’t help.
SEC standings going into Wednesday
Entering Tuesday night’s game in Rupp Arena, Kentucky and Auburn were in a tie for fourth place in the conference standings. They’re still locked up after each team suffered a loss, but now Florida’s only a half-game back (at Alabama tomorrow night) with Missouri and Arkansas trying to climb into the mix with five losses apiece.
SEC Tournament double-bye in jeopardy
Remember, the top four teams in the conference are awarded double-byes in the SEC Tournament, meaning Kentucky has some climbing to do to avoid having to play an additional game in Nashville. Kentucky was so spoiled with the first Friday game during many of John Calipari’s early teams’ trips to the tournament, but this year’s standards have been lowered to surrendering the regular season championship by February and fighting to get Thursday off in the postseason tournament.
Seven games to go.
Gotta get some wins.