Guest post: Kentucky’s value rising fast in a falling market

By RICHARD CHEEKS

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

It seems that every year the SEC wars prove more difficult for the Cats than many people expect. The 2016 SEC season has been everything that fans have learned to expect. The Cats have posted impressive road wins over Arkansas, Alabama, and last Saturday at Tennessee.

However, the SEC record has been blemished by embarrassing, and inexplicable losses at LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee. The Cats are not finished on the SEC road with difficult trips to Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and Florida remaining. No one should expect those worthy opponents to play dead for the Cats, but given the Cats’ strong performances this entire season against teams ranked in the top 50, there is no reason to believe that the Cats will not turn in high-level performances in those three games, win or lose.

The Cats will have an opportunity to avenge two of these three loses, starting tonight when Tennessee visits Rupp for a rematch. LSU will also appear on the Rupp floor in the last regular season game. Paybacks are hell, and there is no reason to believe either of those rematches will be anything less than the Cats treating these two opponents with no respect on that court. No rematch will be possible for cellar dweller Auburn, but next season, the Cats will begin another significantly long wining streak against the “men from the plains.”

If this UK basketball team was a stock traded on Wall Street, its value would be rising fast in a falling market of overall college basketball. The Cats now stand at the top of the SEC tied with LSU with 9-3 records. The Cats are now favored to finish as the last team standing in the SEC in less than three weeks. Finally, I believe the Cats will again be favored to win the 2016 SEC Tournament yet again. These Cats are in the midst of a major late season surge.

Tennessee brings a 12-13; 5-7 record into this rematch with the Cats. The Cats record now stands at 19-6, 9-3 in the SEC, and as noted previously, one of those three conference losses occurred on February 2 in Knoxville when the Cats fell asleep at the wheel and allowed Tennessee to come back from a 21 point deficit to beat the Cats by 7.

Since that embarrassment, the Cats have responded with three straight wins. However, to be fair, characterizing the Cats’ post Tennessee accomplishments simply as “wins” is an understatement. The Cats defeated #32 Florida by 19, #81 Georgia by 34, and #59 South Carolina by 27 in Columbia. In contrast, Tennessee has lost two of its three games since it stole that victory from the Cats. Tennessee did place a nice 26 point win over #183 Auburn between losses to #88 Arkansas by 18 and to hapless #168 Missouri by 11.

TENNESSEE has played its 25 D1 games at an average tempo of about 72 to 73 possessions per game, scoring 76.5 ppg (1.057 ppp) and allowing an average 75.0 ppg (1.035 ppp). TENNESSEE has turned the ball over on 15.4% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 18.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, TENNESSEE has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 32.4%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 64.7%. The Tennessee schedule has a strength of schedule of 0.6414 (#51).

In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 78.8 ppg (1.126 ppp) and allowing 66.9 ppg (0.954 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.2% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 19.0% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats’ rebounding rates have been 38.6% and 68.8% on the offensive and defensive ends. The Cats have a strength of schedule of 0.6715 (#29).

Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kentucky with a theoretical margin of 15 points, 82-67 in a game played at a pace of 71 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for Tennessee. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky’s favor by 16 points, 85-69 at a pace of 70 possessions. Vegas opened with the Cats a 14 ½ point favorite, but the line has widened to 17 points this evening.

See how other Big Blue Fans see this game’s likely outcome by clicking the following link.

http://bigbluefans4uk.com/2015-16DataandWritings/247_PREDICTIONS/26_PREDICTIONS.png

You can enter your prediction at any time prior to tip off by visiting the 247 Sports prediction thread for this game at:

http://kentucky.247sports.com/Board/296/Contents/Tennessee-Prediction-Thread-43679697

3 comments

  1. Last word of first paragraph should be South Carolina not Tennessee. That darn global search and replace bit me again.

  2. Analysis:

    UK scored its 80 points on 66 possessions for the game, and TENNESSEE scored its 70 points on 66 possessions.

    The Cats controlled the Boards, 45-39, and the Cats won the battle on the offensive glass 14-13. Kentucky used its 14 second chance possessions to score 15 second chance points, and TENNESSEE used its 13 second chance possessions to score 13 second chance points. TENNESSEE had an offensive efficiency of 0.863 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 1.000 ppp for its 13 second chance possessions. UK had 0.985 ppp on its 66 first chance possessions and 1.071 ppp on its 14 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 35.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while TENNESSEE was able to convert 29.5% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

    UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 17-23 [73.9%]. TENNESSEE made 21-30 [70.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 26-62 overall [41.9%] and 11-24 from long range [45.8%]. For TENNESSEE, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a 17-44 [38.6%] and from long range, TENNESSEE hit 5-14 [35.7%].

    The Cats committed 8 turnovers, one for every 8.2 possessions. The Cats forced 7 TENNESSEE turnovers, one for every 9.4 possessions.

    Next Game On Schedule: Saturday Evening against Texas A&M at College Station, Texas at 6:30 PM in the 27th regular season and 14th SEC game of the 2015-16 season.

    1. I’m quite hyped for Our next Game at A&M…That’s going to be a Heck of an environment comparable to Kansas that We’ll be playing in. DEFINITELY going to have to bring Our “A” Game!

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