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NASHVILLE — Kentucky has won 21 games and has the No. 2 seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, reasons that college basketball analyst Joe Dean says there should be no doubt that UK is already in the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens Friday night when UK plays either Vanderbilt or Arkansas here in the SEC tourney.
“I think they are definitely a NCAA Tournament team. I don’t think there is any question,” said Dean, a former UK assistant coach who is now athletics director at Birmingham Southern. “Florida to me is a top 10 team. Solid top 10 team, and they beat Florida the last game of the year. They won at Mississippi, and I think Ole Miss is a really good team. They beat Missouri late.
“They played a really tough schedule, and you can say they didn’t win the game but you go to Louisville and lose by three and I think Louisville is going to be a top seed. Kentucky lost by them to three on their court. They lost to Duke in a close game. Come on now. Kentucky is a NCAA team. No question about it.”
To validate his belief, Dean used No. 1 Gonzaga.
“You think if Gonzaga played at Rupp Arena tomorrow night that Kentucky couldn’t win that game,” Dean, who will be working the SEC Tournament, said. “I know they could win and Gonzaga could be the No. 1 seed in the tournament. How do you think (Gonzaga coach) Mark Few would like it if I said, ‘Okay, Mark here is what you are going to have the next two weeks. I am sending you to Rupp Arena, Columbia, Ma., and Gainesville, Fla.’ How do you thinking they would do? And they are the number one team in the country right now. That’s why Kentucky has to be in.”