By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
They have played twice, on each team’s home court, and the home team had its own way against the visitor each time. Now, these two giants of the this SEC season will collide in the SEC Tournament’s Semifinals to determine which of them will earn a #1 seed in next week’s NCAA tournament and which will settle for a #2 seed. The stakes have not been higher than this in an SEC Tournament since perhaps the wars between Pitino’s Cats and Richardson’s Hogs in the 1990s.
This is a game that should have occurred in the SEC Championship game, and but for a missed basket interference call that enabled LSU’s upset of the Cats at Rupp Arena, that is exactly where this collision would have occurred.
The Cats regained the services of Reid Travis in their Quarterfinal 18 point win over Alabama, and with Reid’s return to the floor, the Cats also saw a return to the 0.4+ game ANE values that had been conspicuously absent since Reid had to sit due to a knee sprain about 6 games ago. This bodes well for the Cats’ chances because other than the change of venues that occurred between the Cats’ 17 point win over the Vols at Rupp and the Vols 19 point win over the Cats at TBA, the biggest change was the presence then absence of Reid Travis from the competition.
#7 Tennessee enters this game with a 28-4 record. The Volss’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.0917 ppp (#42). The Tennessee’s ANE for the season stands at 0.291 ppp and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.379 ppp.
The Cats’ schedule has a SOS value of 0.1053 ppp (#25). The Cats’ ANE for the season stands at 0.283 ppp, their season ANE since game 7 has been 0.328 ppp, and their ANE over the last 5 games is 0.249 ppp.
The ANE analysis based on Kentucky’s ANE since game 7 indicates a Kentucky margin of 2 point, 74-72, in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions. As a matter of record, the traditional ANE analysis indicates an ½ point Tennessee advantage and a “last 5” analysis indicates a Tennessee an advantage of 9 points.
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