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A final look at UK's profile entering Selection Sunday

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UK will learn its NCAA Tournament fate during the Selection Show at 6 p.m. on CBS. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK will learn its NCAA Tournament fate during the Selection Show at 6 p.m. on CBS. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
ATLANTA -- Kentucky fans' favorite unofficial holiday is finally upon us. In a matter of hours, UK will learn its place and path in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

Of course, there's a bit of an important game to be played and a championship to be won before that, but everyone loves brackets. With that in mind, let's take a peek at where we can expect the Wildcats to fit in when their name pops up on Selection Sunday.

UK's profile is an interesting one. The Cats have a solid record (24-9), finished second in a power conference and have a respectable 8-7 record away from home with their lone "bad loss" coming on the road against a South Carolina team that played its best at season's end. They boast an RPI of 17, one spot ahead of Louisville -- a team some have argued should receive a No. 1 seed.

There is one hole in UK's resume: quality wins.

The Cats are just 1-4 against teams currently in the CBSSports.com RPI top 25, the lone victory coming over the aforementioned Cardinals. UK is 3-1 against opponents ranked 26-50 -- including a victory over Big East Tournament champion Providence -- and 10-3 against those ranked 51-100.

So, how will the Selection Committee reconcile the good and the bad? There's no way of knowing until the Selection Show at 6 p.m. on CBS, but we can get an idea based on what the experts are saying.

There are literally dozens of bracket projections out there, so I'm not particularly interested in focusing on any specific one. Instead, let's take a look at the Bracket Matrix, which takes all of them into account.

UK currently averages out as the final No. 6 seed, seeded anywhere from five to eight depending on whom you listen to. That would mean a first-round matchup with an 11 seed, where teams like Tennessee (conference foes can't play in the early rounds), SMU, Providence, Xavier and Nebraska will likely land.

In the second round, a likely matchup with a three seed would await. Current No. 3 seeds, according to Bracket Matrix, are Virginia, Iowa State, Louisville (wouldn't that be fun?) and Creighton.

The next topic for debate is how the outcome of Sunday's Southeastern Conference championship game will affect seeding. The committee will be pressed for time to alter the bracket too much given the game isn't likely to end more than 30-45 minutes before the Selection Show, but it won't be able to ignore a victory over the Gators.

Interestingly, Sunday's title game is reminiscent of the one UK played in two years ago on this front.

Like Florida, UK entered that game in 2012 on a long winning streak and assured of a No. 1 seed. The Cats' opponent -- Vanderbilt -- had a similar record (23-10) to the current UK team and had lost to their title-game foe twice in the regular season. The Commodores would of course win the game, moving up to a No. 5 seed in the process. It's not hard to envision a similar outcome for the Cats should they pull the upset.

On the flip side, UK won the 2011 SEC Tournament under similar circumstances but didn't enjoy a significant seeding boost. The Cats and Florida entered the championship game with similar profiles, but UK ended up with a four seed and Florida a two.

A loss, on the other hand, is difficult to imagine having disastrous effects. UK's RPI won't be hurt by playing the team rated No. 2 according to the measure.

But that's the beauty and the curse of Selection Sunday: You never know until the brackets are unveiled.

To bring you more expansive coverage, CoachCal.com and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at CoachCal.com and UKathletics.com/blog, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

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