Welcome to the Bulldawg Illustrated Hoops Report. It’s like shocking the world. And that’s what the Dawgs need to do today to make the Big Dance. We host Kentucky at 6 pm Saturday night, and the place needs to be worse than bonkers, to quote a legend. The game is being televised by ESPN, and there will be a lot of big-time football recruits in attendance. So we’ve got a chance at a twofer. Beat the Cats and show the future Dawgs a rocking good time. Unfortunately, I can’t make it, which means I’m stuck listening to Vitale. That stinks!
Here’s our situation in a nutshell. The Dawgs have five games left. If we go 4-1, we’ll get an at-large bid in most instances. Now the are a few people that disagree with me and say we’ve got to win out. Here’s why they’re wrong. The Dawgs played a very respectable out of conference schedule. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any huge wins and had a questionable loss to Oakland. While I don’t think it’s bad due to several extenuating circumstances, the tournament committee will look askance at it, most likely. So that’s not a big resume builder. However, the Dawgs have had the toughest in conference schedule by a long shot this year. As you know, in the conference schedule each year you play five teams twice and eight teams once. The Dawgs were stuck playing UK, UF, the Lamecocks, Awburn, and Bama twice. Those teams have a combined 45-20 record in the SEC. That’s right. The teams we play twice are 25 games over .500. That’s insane and unlucky. We have the 17th toughest in the country. We’re ranked in the top 50 in RPI. Lastly, most of the sites that post odds have us at a 21% chance of making the tourney. If we wouldn’t have blown UK or UF, then we’d probably be in, or at worst on the bubble, at the moment. But if “Ifs” were fifths, we’d all be slurring. The issue I’m getting at is we’re still very much alive. We’ve either got to be UK at home or Arkansas on the road and win the other three against mediocre teams. That’s not impossible.
So here we go! Need to beat UK at home. We 17-41 against them in the Stegasaurus. And it’s even tougher this year for a couple of reasons. First, they’re good. But that’s normal. Second, they’re not sleeping on us. They know what happened in Lexington. They were coming off of two straight losses, and we still had them beat. They’re playing for seeding, and their natives are restless. Between the political environment and no titles lately, I bet nation Whack-Job Ashley Judd hasn’t slept in weeks. Plus, believe it or not, some say Calipari better get another title soon, or they may move on. The One-and-Done system is not producing hardware at the moment. John Shady doesn’t want to lose that paycheck. Though, the World Wide Leader would most certainly hire him. Plus, if he saw the writing on the wall, he may just light a torch and try to burn Rome on the way out. But I digress. My point? He’ll have Big Blue ready to go. We committed 17 turnovers and missed nine FTs in the last game. Let’s keep the TOs around 12 or less and hit over 80% at the stripe. Remember, Yante Maten is a Big Dawg. So let the Big Dawg eat. UK will double him a lot. That means other guys will be wide open. Someone’s got to be a hero and shock the world.