The Southeastern Conference's modest Ratings Percentage Index should not adversely affect individual teams' chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament bid.
That was SEC Commissioner Mike Slive's stated view on a teleconference on Tuesday. And his view counts for a lot, considering he will serve as chairman of the tournament's selection committee this year.
"The committee is not going to consider Conference RPI," Slive said. "It will not be a factor. It will not be part of the nitty-gritty, not on the cheat sheet and not available in the room."
That's a good thing for Kentucky because the SEC has the worst RPI of any of the six so-called major conferences. The league also has a losing record (15-21) against the other five top conferences and a losing record (5-10) against ranked teams.
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Slive, who, according to the rules, isn't allowed to lobby for a team in his conference, said each team will be judged on its entire season.
A large or small number of league teams already selected will not affect another league team's chances of getting a bid, he said.
"Conference affiliation carries no weight when discussing the merit of a team," he said.
Slive also downplayed the importance of a fast finish. Over the years, much discussion has centered on how a team fares in its last 10 games going into the post-season.
While noting that each committee member is free to give as much importance to the last 10 games as he or she wants, Slive saw nothing magical in a team's performance down the home stretch.
A record down the stretch can be disproportionately affected by the quality of competition.
"It's important to see how a team plays," Slive said before adding that the committee shouldn't lose sight of the entire schedule.
"The last 12 games can't outweigh what a team did, particularly if successful, earlier in the season," he said.
Since the SEC expanded to 12 schools in 1991-92, the league has received at least four NCAA Tournament bids each season. That standard might be put to the test this year, most college basketball observers say.
C.M.: Sky isn't falling
Count former UK director of athletics C.M. Newton among those who said Kentucky did not face a must-win situation against Florida.
Newton, now a consultant for SEC basketball, said plenty of games remained for UK to secure a bid even if Florida had pulled out the win in Rupp Arena.
Newton, who heads the National Invitation Tournament, said he led a meeting this week. Plenty of possibilities exist for an NIT bid, he said, but Kentucky was not discussed. Nor did Newton expect UK to become a viable option.