Sidelines with John Clay

Five SEC basketball teams are in the RPI top 25. Kentucky isn’t one of them.

Missouri head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin signals to his team during a game this season. The Tigers are currently No. 2 in the Ratings Percentage Index for college basketball.
Missouri head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin signals to his team during a game this season. The Tigers are currently No. 2 in the Ratings Percentage Index for college basketball. jsleezer@kcstar.com

In its weekly basketball notes, the SEC office in Birmingham points out that five conference teams are currently among the Top 25 in the RPI ratings. That's the best of any conference.

Here's the surprise: Kentucky is not one of the five.

Through games of Dec. 10, here are the SEC rankings in the RPI:

▪ 2-Missouri (8-2)

▪ 5-Texas A&M (8-1)

▪ 8-Tennessee (7-1)

▪ 9-Arkansas (7-2)

▪ 25-Alabama (7-3)

▪ 30-Mississippi State (8-0)

▪ 33-Kentucky (8-1)

▪ 49-South Carolina (8-2)

▪ 62-Auburn (8-1)

▪ 64-Georgia (7-1)

▪ 67-Florida (6-3)

▪ 133-Ole Miss (4-4)

▪ 163-Vanderbilt (3-6)

▪ 166-LSU (5-2)

Here is the RPI top 25 by conference:

▪ 5-SEC (2-Missouri; 5-Texas A&M; 8-Tennessee; 9-Arkansas; 25-Alabama)

▪ 4-ACC (1-Duke; 7-North Carolina; 19-Virginia; 24-Syracuse)

▪ 4-Big East (6-Villanova; 17-St. John's; 18-Xavier; 20-Seton Hall)

▪ 3-Big 12 (10-TCU; 13-West Virginia; 22-Kansas)

▪ 2-Big 10 (4-Michigan St; 21-Purdue)

▪ 2-American Athletic (11-Temple; 14-Wichita State)

▪ 1-Pac-12 (3-Arizona St)

▪ 1-C-USA (12-Middle Tennessee)

▪ 1-MWC (15-Nevada)

▪ 1-MVC (16-Northern Illinois)

▪ 1-Atlantic 10 (23-Rhode Island)

Of course, the Ratings Percentage Index is based on a team's results and its strength of schedule. The former is no problem for Kentucky, 8-1 after nine games. The strength of schedule part is the problem.

Ken Pomeroy, who has Kentucky ranked No. 14 overall in his adjusted efficiency rankings, has the Kentucky strength of schedule ranked No. 203.

Jeff Sagarin's computations, which rank Kentucky No. 19 overall, has the Cats' strength of schedule at No. 227.

Here is the current RPI for UK's opponents to this point:

▪ 22-Kansas (7-2)

▪ 50-Vermont (6-4)

▪ 66-Utah Valley (6-4)

▪ 121-Monmouth (3-7)

▪ 146-East Tennessee (6-3)

▪ 176-Harvard (4-6)

▪ 206-Fort Wayne (6-5)

▪ 290-Troy (5-5)

▪ 327-UIC (3-6)

Calipari has been saying, and I've been concurring, that UK's schedule is about to grow more difficult, and in a hurry. But the RPI doesn't necessarily agree.

Here are the RPI rankings of the next four opponents:

▪ 64-Georgia (7-1)

▪ 100-Louisville (6-2)

▪ 110-Virginia Tech (9-1)

▪ 113-UCLA (7-2)

Then again, as the NCAA likes to point out, the RPI is not the be-all/end-all. Instead, it's just one tool the selection committee uses to help choose the 68 teams that make the NCAA Tournament.

And given the relative early strength of the SEC, UK's RPI is bound to improve once it moves into league play.

AP Top 25 week-to-week in a Google Doc

KENTUCKY BASKETBALL 2017-18

Date

Opponent

UK

Opp

Dec

Rec

SEC

11/10/17

Utah Valley

73

63

W

1-0

11/12/17

Vermont

73

69

W

2-0

11/14/17

vsKansas (chicago)

61

65

L

2-1

11/17/17

East Tennessee

78

61

W

3-1

11/20/17

Troy

70

62

W

4-1

11/22/17

Fort Wayne

86

67

W

5-1

11/26/17

UIC

107

73

W

6-1

12/2/17

Harvard

79

70

W

7-1

12/9/17

vsMonmouth (New York)

93

76

W

8-1

12/16/17

Virginia Tech

12/23/17

vsUCLA (New Orleans)

12/29/17

Louisville

12/31/17

Georgia

1/3/18

@LSU

1/6/18

@Tennessee

1/9/18

Texas A&M

1/13/18

@Vanderbilt

1/16/18

@South Carolina

1/20/18

Florida

1/23/18

Mississippi St

1/27/18

@West Virginia

1/30/18

Vanderbilt

2/3/18

@Missouri

2/6/18

Tennessee

2/10/18

@Texas A&M

2/14/18

@Auburn

2/17/18

Alabama

2/20/18

@Arkansas

2/24/18

Missouri

2/28/18

Ole Miss

3/3/18

@Florida

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