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From the Pressbox: Pre-Florida notes

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Some of you may have written this season off, but Joe B. Hall knows a team can still come to life after most have left it for dead.

In 1985, Kentucky lost three of its last five regular-season games and then lost its first game in the SEC Tournament to put the Wildcats squarely on the bubble, long before that word came to be used.

But the NCAA Selection Committee picked UK for the field and Kentucky proceeded to upset Washington and ninth-ranked UNLV before falling to St. John's in Hall's final game.

John Calipari's message to his team last night was, "Beat Florida and this all goes away" and he's right. Now, the Wildcats just have to do it.

Mathies leading UK Hoops into postseason

After two runs to the Elite Eight, is this the best chance the UK women's basketball team has had to get to a Final Four?

"They have a lot more depth - usable, quality depth, that can play the style that Matthew (Mitchell) wants to play," Jen Smith said on "The Leach Report" radio show.   She covers the team for the Lexington Herald-Leader.  

"And they have a chip on their shoulder about not winning the SEC championship. They have a swagger and a quiet confidence about them, and they really want to win an SEC Tournament championship," she added, "because that's something (the seniors) haven't been able to do."

A'dia Mathies is already one of the best ever in this program's history, but leading UK to its first Final Four would put her on even higher pedestal.

"I've covered her since she was in seventh grade and she still plays the same way, she has the same demeanor. It's been amazing to watch her grow into this star player," Smith observed. "I still feel like I know nothing about (her). She's quick-witted and she's interesting but she's extremely quiet. Her nickname is 'The Silent Assassin,'  and that's what she is."

Cats need Harrow, Goodwin

When one looks back at the box score from Kentucky's loss at Florida last month, the guard numbers jump out. Ryan Harrow was scoreless in 19 minutes and he and Archie Goodwin combined for eight points and six of UK's 17 turnovers.

In Florida, Kentucky will face arguably the league's best defensive team. When it comes to forcing turnovers, the Gators make the opponent give up the ball on 22.9 percent of its possessions, which is second highest in the SEC. And Florida is a runaway leader in defensive efficiency, allowing only 0.845 points per possession (which also ranks second nationally).

One matchup that the Gators would seem to have difficulty with would be Alex Poythress - provided the freshman plays like he did against Missouri. At Florida, Kentucky tried going to Poythress, but he missed eight of his nine field goal attempts.

In the win over Missouri, Coach Cal credited the crowd with having a big impact on the outcome and Big Blue Nation will need to "bring it" tomorrow, too. Kentucky has lost only three times in its final home game of the season since 1964. One of those losses came at the hands of Florida in 2006.

Lunardi offers tweaks to NCAA selection process

ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi is a numbers guy, constantly analyzing the data this time of year to project what the NCAA Selection Committee will do. Perhaps not surprisingly, Lunardi would like to see the committee take more numbers into consideration, and not put quite as much weight on a team's RPI.

"I would include more of them than the RPI. I think they all measure different things and the things measured are things of value if taken correctly," Lunardi in a recent appearance on "The Leach Report" radio show. "There are outliers. Sometimes logic plays into it. It's the same thing for the other side, with the more performance-based metrics (like kenpom.com). You have to spot the outliers."

If Lunardi had Coach Cal's proverbial "magic wand" to shape the selection and seeding process any way he wanted, Lunardi would put great emphasis on how a team does in its league.

"I would pass this rule without discussion: You would have to be tournament-eligible by being at least .500 in your league, as a way of making the conference season a little more important," he adding that league tournament performance would also be included.

"If you are 7-9 in your league and you count conference tournament games and you make the conference final and lose and you're 9-9 or 10-10, you are back to being tournament eligible. It would add a tremendous amount to those Thursday and Friday games between the teams that finished down on the standings and I think history shows it would open up one or two spots a year in the at-large pool for the Drexels, who win 29 games and get excluded," Lunardi continued. "History shows that time after time teams that have won a lot from high quality non-BCS leagues almost always perform better in the tournament than what I would call the middling majors from the bigger leagues.  Winning 27 or 28 games in those leagues is pretty good and we forget that winning begets winning."

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