Well, that sure was a gut punch. Getting ran off the court during nearly half of the matchup against Vanderbilt is not what I had planned for this team's trip to Nashville. They managed to avoid the harder side of the bracket, play a team they played just a week ago so surely we'd have a fresh game plan to not lose to them a second time, plus they were without their best player. And somehow, Kentucky still lost...
A beat-up Kentucky team went down to Nashville for the SEC Tournament this weekend and came back with as many wins as they arrived with. The 3-seeded Cats unfortunately suffered a 80-73 loss to the 6-seeded Commodores in a fashion that feels like it has spoiled a lot of the momentum surrounding the team from the state above.
Kentucky is forced to head back to Lexington after a short stay in the big city which definitely sucks for the viewer, but if there is any positivity about it, it's that this team can have a little more than a half a week to rest, get even more healed throughout all of their injuries, and focus on the bigger picture which is the NCAA Tournament. I'm in no way saying that losing the conference tournament doesn't matter, because it does, but in the grand scheme of things this doesn't matter as much as it feels like it does in this moment. The bigger picture is winning the next tournament. But to be clear, this isn't an excuse. If you put a jersey on and show up for the opening tip, you play to win the game. Not to hope to win then bail yourself out with looking forward for what's to come, avoiding the defeat you just took. This game very much matters, but the point I'm trying to get across is that you can win the entire conference tournament and lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and no one outside of your program will even care. It is cool to run the tables of the conference tourney - like Kentucky use to - but it's not the ultimate goal of the season when you play at a place like Kentucky. This program doesn't hang banners for that. It's Final Fours and Title games, or nothing at all. So as they take this loss, in which the whole country will be discussing, it is what it is and we keep taking on the next challenge. Eat the disappointment for the rest of the evening and when you make it back to your home gym, sweat it out and perfect the operations as they await their destination come this Sunday during Selection Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.
I believe Kentucky will be a 5-8 seed once it gets announced, which that could put them in a handful of different places. None that I feel confident in trying to predict. But the silver lining is, this team has been tabbed "The Unpredictable's" by many, and for better or worse, that means they could win just about any game while also being able to lose any game. Heading into the tournament that probably isn't the best recipe for success, but what am I going to do, not root them on? Of course I am. I'm pulling for them to win their first round matchup because at Kentucky (excluding last season) that's what you do - well, what you are SUPPOSED to do, and I understand the pressure will be extremely high on this crew. It's clear that if they slip again like they did last year, there will be a lot of frustrated fans across this country, but that's what comes with the role when you represent a program with this much storied history. Remember to be angry or happy with the results, not the individuals who are out there tearing their bodies apart for your entertainment. But with this being such a storied basketball program, history doesn't earn you wins now, so how about they go out and create their own kind of history.