Friday, February 13, 2015

The State of Kentucky Basketball 2015: All We Do is Win, Win, Win

It's time for our first annual "State of Kentucky Basketball" - an overview of where every in-state college team is as we get into late February and March.

Here are some facts and thoughts:

- All teams in Kentucky have a combined record of 430-220 as of today

- There are 7 teams currently ranked in the top 10 nationally in their respective divisions

- UK is undefeated and No. 1 in NCAA D1

- NCAA D1's current top 2 winning streaks: UK 24 games, Murray State 20 games

- I believe the state has 7-8 teams that will have legitimate chances at winning national championships

- UK, Louisville, Murray State, Western Kentucky, Bellarmine, Kentucky Wesleyan, Centre, Spalding, Pikeville, Georgetown, Campbellsville, Brescia and Asbury are all in contention to win regular season conference championships or league division titles.

Let's take a look:

NCAA DIVISION I


· Kentucky Wildcats (24-0, 11-0 SEC)

We are midway through February and the Wildcats are still undefeated with an opportunity to go down as one of college basketball’s all-time greatest teams. Kentucky has had some close calls but have found ways to survive, which is the trademark of great teams.

Currently, John Calipari’s team is the unanimous No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 poll and has all but one first place vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Wildcats will be favored to finish the regular season undefeated, which would be the first time a big conference team has done that since 1976 (Indiana). If they win the SEC Tournament (March 12-15) in Nashville, they will be six games away from a level of history that we haven’t witnessed in almost 40 years.

· Louisville Cardinals (20-4, 8-3 ACC)

The Cardinals just picked up their 20th win on Wednesday against Pittsburgh. They are currently 8-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference which puts them in a three-way tie with Duke and North Carolina for third place. Virginia is first at 10-1 and Notre Dame is second at 10-3.

Louisville is currently ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 9 in the AP Top 25.

The Cards have seven games to go before the ACC Tournament tips off March 10 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

· Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (16-7, 9-2 C-USA)

The Hilltoppers are coming off a disappointing loss to Rice but are still just half a game behind Louisiana Tech (10-2) in the Conference USA standings. UTEP and UAB are just behind at 9-3.

Western Kentucky has seven games remaining on the schedule before the Conference USA tournament March 11-14 in Birmingham, Alabama.

· Northern Kentucky Norse (10-14, 4-5 ASUN)

It has been an up-and-down season for the Norse. They are currently sitting alone in fifth place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings with five games to go.

The good news is that the Norse will be eligible for the Atlantic Sun tournament championship this season for the first time since moving to Division I. They won’t be able to compete in the NCAA Tournament even if they win but the team has something to shoot for.

The conference tournament will be March 3-8 at campus sites.

· Murray State Racers (22-4, 12-0 OVC)

The Racers looked a little rough during the Challenge in Nashville event in November. Since a disappointing performance that weekend, Murray State has reeled off 20 consecutive wins, which is second in the nation to only Kentucky. They received votes in both major college basketball polls this week.

Murray State is 12-0 in the OVC and while an automatic berth for the NCAA Tournament is a reach, they already have all but locked up a spot in the NIT.

Nothing is guaranteed in March, but the Racers are heavy favorites to win the OVC Tournament (March 4-7) in Nashville next month.

· Eastern Kentucky Colonels (15-9, 7-4 OVC)

The Colonels had a tough stretch in January but have since won four straight league games to take over the top spot in the OVC East division. With East wins over Morehead State (twice) and Belmont, Eastern Kentucky controls their own destiny for the No. 2 seed in the OVC Tournament, which is accompanied by a double bye into the semifinals. · Morehead State Eagles (12-15, 7-5 OVC) The Eagles really needed a win at Eastern Kentucky earlier this week but ended up on the losing side. Luckily, Belmont also lost Wednesday night, which keeps Morehead in the second spot in the OVC East. Sean Woods’ team needs a win at Belmont this weekend to hold on to the second spot in the division and have a great chance to earn at least a single bye in the OVC Tournament. Beyond that, they will need EKU to slip up a couple of times, which is entirely possible in the always competitive OVC.

NCAA DIVISION II


· Bellarmine Knights (21-2, 13-1 GLVC)

Scott Davenport’s Knights are currently ranked No. 3 in the NABC DII rankings with four games to go in the regular season.

The Knights are on top of the GLVC East division by virtue of a tiebreaker over UW-Parkside, which also boasts a 13-1 league record.

Bellarmine will be one of the favorites win the GLVC Tournament March 1-8 at St. Charles, Missouri. After that, they have a chance to make a deep run in the NCAA Division II national tournament.

· Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers (17-6, 6-3 G-MAC)

The Panthers are having a solid season although they have a couple of losses that I’m sure head coach Happy Osborne would tell you they should have won. That being said, KWC is 6-3 in the G-MAC conference and have already secured a spot in the league’s six-team postseason tournament.

Kentucky Wesleyan has five regular season games remaining and are squarely in the hunt for the G-MAC regular season championship. Alderson Broaddus tops the league standings at 8-3 and Central State is next at 7-3.

The conference tournament will take place March 5-7 at campus sites.

· Kentucky State Thorobreds (7-15, 5-10 SIAC)

The Thorobreds have won two of their last three games to get themselves back in the hunt for a respectable seed in the SIAC Tournament (March 2-7 in Birmingham, Alabama). They are currently sitting in sixth place in the SIAC West division.

KSU has four conference games to play in the regular season.

NCAA DIVISION III


· Centre Colonels (16-4, 7-3 SAA)

To the surprise of no one, head coach Greg Mason has the Colonels headed towards a 20-win season, a run in the SAA conference tournament and an opportunity to make the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Currently, Centre is sitting at 16-4 with four league games remaining. The trick being that all four games are on the road. Sewanee is on top of the SAA standings at 8-2. Centre and Rhodes are tied for second at 7-3. Oglethorpe and Birmingham Southern are next at 6-4.

Needless to say, the next two weeks will be interesting in that league.


· Transylvania Pioneers (12-10, 9-6 HCAC)

The Pioneers started the season with a five-game losing streak. Since then, they have gone 12-5 and have won six of their last seven games.

At 9-6, Transy is near the top of the HCAC standings. Mount St. Joseph is 12-3, Defiance and Anderson are 11-4 and Rose-Hulman is also 9-6.

The conference tournament tips February 24 and concludes February 27-28 at the home of the conference champion (likely Mount St. Joseph).

· Thomas More Saints (15-8, 10-4 PAC)

The Saints have two games remaining before the PAC Tournament gets underway (February 23-28 at top seeds).

Thomas More is tied with Waynesburg for second in the league right now at 10-4. Saint Vincent is on top at 11-2.

· Spalding Golden Eagles (14-8, 11-4 SLIAC)

The Golden Eagles have suddenly gone cold after rolling to nine consecutive wins in January. They will try to end a three-game losing streak tomorrow at home.

With three games to go on the schedule, Spalding is currently second in the SLIAC league standings. MacMurray is first at 11-3. The conference tournament will take place February 27-28 at the top seed’s arena.

NAIA DIVISION I


· Pikeville Bears (23-2, 10-2 MSC)

Kelly Wells and the Bears are currently sitting alone in first place in the Mid-South Conference and are once again looking to make a run in the NAIA national tournament.

The Bears stormed back from 19 down last night to knock of Campbellsville and take control the conference standings with four games to play.

Pikeville, which currently ranks No. 4 in the nation, has won 16 of their last 17 games. They do have a challenging contest remaining at Georgetown College (Feb. 19).

· Campbellsville Tigers (22-4, 9-3 MSC)

The Tigers roared out of the gate to 19-1 record an ascended to No. 1 in the NAIA Division I rankings before going 3-3 in their last six games.

Campbellsville is currently No. 6 in the national poll but that was before suffering a tough road loss at Pikeville last night.

With four regular season games to go, the Tigers will be looking to right the ship heading into the Mid-South Conference Tournament (March 6-8 in Frankfort, Kentucky).

Campbellsville is one of several Kentucky teams that will be competing for an NAIA Division I national championship this season.

· Georgetown Tigers (21-4, 8-3 MSC)

The Georgetown Tigers are really good this season. Go figure. Once again, the Tigers are near the top of the MSC standings and will be looking for a deep run in the national tournament.

At No. 9, Georgetown gives the conference three top 10 teams in the nation.

The Tigers suffered a disappointing loss at Lindsey Wilson last night but once thing you can always count on…when the chips are down in March, the Georgetown Tigers will be in the mix.

· Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders (15-11, 6-7 MSC)

The Blue Raiders have suddenly caught fire after starting the season 10-10. Lindsey Wilson has now won 5 of their last 6 games with incredible wins over No. 23 Cumberlands, No. 2 Pikeville and No. 9 Georgetown.

Lindsey Wilson has three very winnable games remaining on the schedule, which could put them in the mix for a good seed come tournament time. Anyone who thinks LWC will be an easy out in Frankfort is sadly mistaken.

· Cumberlands Patriots (18-7, 7-5 MSC)

While Lindsey Wilson has been red hot lately, the Patriots have gone the other direction a bit.

Cumberlands has dropped three of their last four games and still have difficult games on the schedule against Campbellsville and Georgetown. Still, UC has four games remaining to get things worked out before the MSC Tournament.

The Patriots are currently No. 25 in the nation.

· St. Catharine Patriots (10-14, 4-8 MSC)

The league’s other group of Patriots from St. Catharine have suddenly put together a three-game winning streak and are showing signs of heating up at the right time.

At 10-14, the Patriots will have to win the MSC Tournament to advance to the national stage.

NAIA DIVISION II


· Union Bulldogs (23-4, 14-1 AAC)

The Bulldogs have already clinched the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular season crown and are putting together an historic season.

Union College, which is ranked No. 20 in the nation this week, is currently in the midst of a school-record 14-game winning streak.

The big change for UC has been the addition of Georgetown College transfer Dominique Hagans for the second semester. In fact, the Bulldogs haven’t lost in 2015.

The AAC Tournament runs February 24-28 in Kingsport, Tennessee, but the Bulldogs will be thinking bigger picture this season. They have a chance to make noise at the national level.

· Asbury Eagles (18-8, 7-3 KIAC)

Asbury has put together a solid season and are currently sitting at No. 2 in the KIAC South division.

Brescia tops the South with an 8-2 record. The KIAC Tournament gets going February 24 and concludes March 3.

· Alice Lloyd Eagles (11-15, 6-5 KIAC)

The Eagles have three games remaining in the regular season and are currently sitting in fourth place in the KIAC South division.

They will need a run in the conference tournament to get to the next level.

· Brescia Bearcats (16-8, 8-2 KIAC)

The Bearcats are currently on top of the KIAC South division and have clinched a home game in the first round of the KIAC Tournament.

Brescia is receiving votes in the NAIA Division II national poll this week.

USCAA


· Berea Mountaineers (17-4)

It’s a transition year for the Mountaineers as they are in the midst of joining the NCAA Division III ranks. The team is making the most of this season as they are now 17-4 and ranked No. 2 overall in the USCAA Division I poll.

Berea should have an excellent opportunity to make a run at the USCAA national championship. The national tournament will be held March 3-7 at Penn State Fayette in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

 

NCCAA DIVISION I


· Campbellsville Tigers

The Tigers are members of NAIA Division I and NCCAA Division I.


Campbellsville currently ranks No. 2 in the nation in the NCCAA DI top 10 poll. Indiana Wesleyan (24-2) is No. 1 overall.

The NCCAA DI men’s basketball championship tournament will be held in Winona Lake, Indiana March 18-21.

NCCAA DIVISION II


· Kentucky Christian Knights (8-16)

The Knights are 8-16 overall, but have a 5-1 record against NCCAA DII opponents. Their lone loss was a 77-57 setback against Ohio Christian in January.

KCU has four games remaining on their schedule, with three of those being at home in Grayson.

The NCCAA DII men’s basketball championship tournament will be held March 11-14 in Circleville, Ohio.

· Boyce Bulldogs (7-17)

The Bulldogs are currently 7-17 overall and 4-6 against NCCAA competition.

Boyce has games remaining against Welch College (Feb. 14) and Johnson University (Feb. 21).

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Insanely good article! It might be the best overall year for Kentucky ever. Kentucky has legitimate shot to win the D1 National Championship. Many other team can win, or are least capable of winning their leagues regular season titles of their conference.
Murray State is a team that is being overlooked at 21-4 (I think, it may be better than that). Morehead State is playing well at times, and could play Murray for the OVC tourney, with a small, but legitimate chance to win it and be OVC Champs.
This is an exciting time of year for me and the absolute best for college basketball as the regular season winds down, conference tourneys start right and left, and finally March Madness.
So here's to all the Kentucky college basketball teams, whether you're unbeaten or not having such a good. This is a good time for Optimism.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Insanely good article! It might be the best overall year for Kentucky ever. Kentucky has legitimate shot to win the D1 National Championship. Many other teams can win, or are least capable of winning their leagues regular season titles of their conference post-season tournaments.
Murray State is a team that is being overlooked at 21-4 (I think, it may be better than that). Morehead State is playing well at times, and could play Murray for the OVC tourney, with a small, but legitimate chance to win it and be OVC Champs.
This is an exciting time of year for me and the absolute best for college basketball as the regular season winds down, conference tourneys start right and left, and finally March Madness.
So here's to all the Kentucky college basketball teams, whether you're unbeaten or not having such a good season. This is a good time for Optimism.

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