While men's basketball has a dozen prognosticators poring over the brackets looking at every decimal place that could drop a team from a No. 1 seed to a No. 2 seed, women's basketball mostly looks to ESPN's Charlie Creme for its predictions.
In the days leading up to ESPN's Monday Selection Show, Creme has had Kentucky holding steady as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
UK Coach Matthew Mitchell hopes the NCAA Selection Committee sees the numbers a bit differently than Creme.
"I don't see any indicator, strength of schedule, RPI, quality wins, I don't see anything that has us outside of the top 12," Mitchell argued after the Cats fell to Tennessee for a third time this season in the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals. "So I would say a three seed."
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A glance at the numbers helps Mitchell's case. Kentucky (23-9) is in the top eight in both strength of schedule (seven) and ratings percentage index (eight), using the NCAA's numbers.
Three teams that Creme has listed as three seeds ahead of UK — Oregon State, Duke and Arizona State — all have RPI in the double digits, and the Cats are the only ones of that group that have a winning record (6-5) against top 25 teams.
In fact, UK is 10-6 this season in games against teams ranked in the top 50, according to the NCAA's numbers.
"We played a very difficult schedule," Mitchell continued. Not including the SEC schedule, which featured two regular-season games each with No. 3 South Carolina (getting one win) and No. 6 Tennessee. "All schedules are not created equal in the Southeastern Conference. We didn't have one of the easier ones this year. We had a real tough one."
Kentucky also had one of the nation's toughest non-conference schedules, getting wins over No. 5 Baylor, at No. 8 Louisville and over No. 12 Mississippi State (twice).
"If they're looking for a team that's tough and has had to play tough, has answered the bell, had some great wins, that's us," Mitchell argued.
The committee also looks at a team's record in its final 10 games of the season, trying to see if a team has momentum or is struggling at the end of the season.
That's where Kentucky's résumé has a few more gaps, with the Cats going 6-4 in the final 10, including a three-game losing streak. Two of those wins were against ranked opponents, at Tennessee and versus Texas A&M, but the one that sticks out is at Ole Miss, No. 100 in NCAA's RPI.
The fact that Kentucky rebounded to win four in a row after that, including a win over South Carolina, is plenty of proof that UK has righted the ship, Mitchell said.
"It's been a very, very emotionally draining and physically draining last 10 days after the Ole Miss loss," Mitchell said. "The transformation in our team has been amazing. I'm so proud to coach them."
Whether UK earns a No. 4 seed, which means it would have to face a No. 1 seed much earlier in the process, or a No. 3 seed, it looks likely that the Cats will be among the top 16 teams in the field and will play host to the first two rounds at Memorial Coliseum this week.
Creme's mock bracket says it will be Kentucky as a No. 4 seed meeting Wichita State in the first round followed by a matchup with the winner of No. 5 seed North Carolina and No. 12 Quinnipiac in the second round. Then, the winner then would get a trip to the Spokane Regional, where Maryland is the top seed.
A pre-tournament party
Kentucky is hoping that a few thousand of its fans will join the team to watch the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Monday at Memorial Coliseum.
Fans who attend the selection show viewing party will get free Papa John's pizza and Coke products while supplies last. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the Selection Show beginning at 7 p.m. on the big screens in the arena.
All-session tickets will be available online Monday after the selection show, and single-session tickets go on sale Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. Tickets are available online at Ukhoopstix.com or through the UK ticket office.