UK is making the Big Dance

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Remember back in early January when Kentucky lost to Florida to drop the Wildcats’ record to 7-9? Was there ever a team less likely to make the NCAA Tournament?

Already, UK had lost to San Diego, Houston and Gardner-Webb. The Kentucky-haters of the world were in their heaven, where Christian Laettner’s statue is polished on the hour.

Even as Billy Gillispie’s team marched through the SEC, I didn’t see it. No way Kentucky makes the tournament.

Way.

I’m telling you, the Kitty Kats are making the Big Dance. Their RPI has climbed to a respectable level and Kentucky is going to finish second in the East. Your last 12 games matter and right now Kentucky has won eight of its last nine. Four games remain plus the conference tournament, but I figure the Wildcats will win at least 11 games in the league.

Forget the early losses. Forget the blowout at Vandy.

It’s going to happen. Who would have thought back in January that Kentucky would make it and Florida would not?

Or that the season finale between the two teams could be crucial to each other’s chances?

Two more things from a wild weekend of basketball:

1. Vandy will not go far in the NCAAs and don’t expect the Commodores to be in the SEC Tournament final. Vandy is a team that shoots well in an arena that is unlike any other. That doesn’t translate away from home. There’s a reason why Vandy has made one SEC semifinal (and no finals) in the last 14 years and ranks ninth in the conference in all-time NCAA wins with nine. I blame Memorial Gym. It’s a great home-court advantage but it hurts the Commodores in the postseason.

2. Memphis showed why it won’t be a Final Four team. The Tigers can’t shoot free throws.