2012-13 Season Analytical Writings

Cats Miss Big Dance-Open NIT On the Road At Robert Morris

In 2009, one of the final nails that the Billy Gillispie opponents drove into his Kentucky Coaching Coffin was his failure to take a UK team into the Big Dance and the humiliation of playing in the second class (Not In Tournament) NIT. When that team eventually finished with a lackluster loss at Notre Dame, Billy Gillispie's reign at UK came to a swift, if not pretty ending. Never again would UK be so humiliated, the cry went out in all corners of the Big Blue Nation.

Well, it is 2013, and guess what? Yep, UK is once again playing basketball in the second class NIT.

In 2009, the Cats' home court, Rupp Arena, was not available because it was a host site for first and second round NCAA games. The UK wisemen turned that boar's ear into a silk purse by holding the first round NIT game in historic Memorial Coliseum, a venue that holds great memories for many of the Big Blue Nation, and a venue that many more had never had an opportunity to experience. It was a huge success.

Well, it is 2013, and guess what? Yet, UK's Rupp Arena is again committed to the early rounds of NCAA play. However, this year, the UK brain trust concluded that there can be no game in Lexington, and told the NIT officials to place the first round game in the opponents gym. So, the #1 seed in the NIT will play its first game in the #32 seed, Robert Morris' gym in the greater Pittsburgh area. So, Coach Calipari is taking his team back on the road, an environment that has produced 4 straight losses since the big man went down. Coach Calipari has said that he would not want to ask the Big Blue Fans to buy a ticket to watch this team play unless they demonstrate worthiness with a road win.

Robert Morris is a member of the Northeast Conference. Robert Morris won the regular season Northeast Conference championship this season with a 23-10 overall record, and 14-4 in their conference. Early season Kentucky opponent, Long Island, finished in a 3 way tie for second place, 20-13 overall, and 12-6 in their conference. However, Robert Morris missed the Big Dance when they lost to Mount St. Mary's in the second round of their conference tournament. Long Island won the trip to the Big Dance by defeating Mount St. Mary's by 21 in their conference tournament championship game.

For the record, UK beat Long Island on November 23 by 29 points, 104-75. Robert Morris beat Long Island in Brooklyn by 3, 60-57 on February 2, 2013.

ROBERT MORRIS enters this game with a 23-10 record and the regular season champion of the Northeast Conference. Overall, ROBERT MORRIS's schedule has been very week, the 316 th most difficult in D1 basketball (0.3248 per Pomeroy). ROBERT MORRIS has averaged about 67 to 68 possessions per game, producing 71.3 ppg (1.06 ppp) and allowing 65.6 ppg (0.97 ppp). ROBERT MORRIS has turned the ball over on 19.1% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 24.4% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, ROBERT MORRIS has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 31.6% about 2% below the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 68.2%, less than 1% better than the NCAA average.

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 68 possessions per game, producing 73.1 ppg (1.07 ppp) and allowing 64.6 ppg (0.95 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0.6587 (62 nd ). The Cats have committed turnovers on 19.0% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 17.5% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats' rebounding rates have been 34.6% and 68.7% on the offensive and defensive ends.

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky by 5 points, 71-66 in a game played at a pace of 68 possessions for the Cats and 68 possessions for ROBERT MORRIS. Pomeroy has the game as a 5 point game as well, with an identical projected final score at a pace of 66 possessions. The likely margin range for this matchup is a 4 point Kentucky loss to a Kentucky win by 14 points.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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