UK Men's Basketball

Slive says NCAA won't consider conference RPI

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.

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.