UK wins, Duke loses so will UK drop in NCAA projections and Duke move up?

Nate Sestina led cheers during UK’s win at Texas A&M Tuesday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Will Kentucky’s win at Texas A&M Tuesday night lower its seeding the next time bracketologist Joe Lunardi posts his potential pairings for next month’s NCAA Tournament?

Sure, that sounds idiotic but UK dropped last week after it won at LSU and then beat Florida at home even if the Cats did rise to No. 8 this week in the AP rankings and No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Credit ESPN’s Sean Farnham for asking Lunardi on air about UK, a team Farnham believes is capable of winning a national championship.

“Kentucky is playing as well as anybody right now and certainly more deserving of kind of the four-five seed range where the metrics seem to slot them,” Lunardi told Farnham. “Every year there are outliers in these metrics; fewer in the era of the NET than the RPI, certainly.

“But when you look at all the metrics that we do, it makes it easier to identify the outlier. Kentucky is one of them on the positive side. We’ll keep moving them up and we’ll look for some other metrics that seem to overrate some other teams.”

Trouble is that UK’s losses to Evansville in November and Utah in December continue to haunt the Cats. And it seems that a win like the one at Texas A&M doesn’t help that much because it was not a blowout win. Only four of UK’s 15 SEC games have been decided by 10 or more points and Kentucky simply has not been able to put up wins by big numbers.

Of course, then there is Duke — which lost 113-101 at Wake Forest Tuesday. That’s Wake Forest that even with the Duke win has a 12-15 record and likely won’t even make the NIT. Duke also has a December loss to Stephen Austin that was an even bigger upset at the time than UK’s loss to Evansville.

Yet as many UK fans continue to preach, Duke never seems to quite take a NCAA hit like UK does. Why is that?

Lunardi had Duke as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA last week. ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index had Duke at No. 1 last week and UK at 23rd.

That’s why as soon as UK won at Texas A&M some Kentucky fans were already on social media joking that Duke’s seeing would improve while UK’s would drop.

But even UK coach John Calipari couldn’t resist a playful jab at the projected Lunardi seedings after his team’s seventh straight win and 15th in the last 17 games.

Calipari said he heard Kentucky is “a four seed and moving down. I guess we stink.”

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