Home-court loss to Evansville hurts UK in early NCAA Tournament seeding

Kentucky players, from left, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey celebrated after Saturday’s win over Tennessee. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

During the NCAA Tournament early selection show on CBS-TV just before UK’s game at Tennessee, Kentucky was not among the top 16 seeds. Instead, the Cats were one of the teams that just missed that elite 16 and the loss to Evansville was cited for UK not being in the top 16 by selection committee chair David White, the athletics director at Duke.

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart is vice-chairman of the 10-member selection committee and answered media quesitons about the picks. He was asked what kept Kentucky from being one of the top 16 teams.

“Let me be really clear. During those conversations I am not in the room when it is discussed, so I’m recused from the room, and so as athletic director at Kentucky, I am not in the room,” Barnhart said. “I’m just given the result of the conversation and how it played out.”

Barnhart then let David Worlock of the NCAA explain what happened to Kentucky.

“From a positive standpoint, from Kentucky, were some of the performance in the non-conference, specifically a road win at Texas Tech and a neutral court win over Michigan State, to go with the home win over Louisville, so they have three high-quality non-conference wins that certainly helped Kentucky,” Worlock said.

“And as far as the negative were some of the losses, the loss to Evansville specifically, was probably enough to keep them on the outside of the first four lines.”

However, Worlock reminded everyone it is still five weeks until selection Sunday and a lot could change with Iowa, LSU and others along with Kentucky that missed the top 16.

“They certainly received consideration, as Mitch alluded to. There’s plenty of opportunities for all those teams to get quality wins before the end of the season and potentially move up into that top four lines,” Worlock said.

Barnhart also got asked about Duke being a higher No. 2 seed than Louisville — which leads the ACC over Duke and also beat Duke.

Duke mystique

“It is a full body of work, and we also must take into account that Duke had the win against Kansas and had better metrics overall in terms of how that played out,” Barnhart said. “Slight edge in the metrics in terms of I just mentioned that, and I think that’s sort of where we are.

“Again, it’s not just one thing. I think what people want to do is look at one thing and say that’s all it is, and it’s the quality of the wins in the first quadrant, so I think if you match up those two or three things, that would be the difference.”

Maybe but seems like team leading the ACC that also beat a team would be seeded higher but what do I know when it comes to Duke and the almost always favorable NCAA seeding/location.

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