In the past, teams have been penalized in the seeding process after a late-season injury to a star player.
However, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, his questionable availability is not likely to impact the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament seeding. Nor would an SEC Tournament flop or flourish really hurt or help UK on Selection Sunday.
“I don’t think in their case it’s going to be that huge of the deal,” Lunardi said Thursday on an ESPN Bracketology media call. “Short of winning the sec tournament with or without him, they’re not in a great position to improve their standing anyway. And I don’t think they’re in real danger of dropping very far.”
Lunardi currently has the Wildcats as a 6-seed, and said he could see them rising or falling one seed line depending on how the SEC Tournament goes.
It’s worth noting that Vanderbilt, who is Kentucky’s best rebounder, is expected to be ready for the NCAA Tournament. According to SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker, the unspecified injury is not to his left foot, which is what caused him to miss significant time earlier this season.
Vanderbilt has played in 14 games since returning from that foot injury, and is averaging 13.8 points and 18.5 rebounds per 40 minutes.
Lunardi also commented on Kentucky’s longterm viability in the NCAA Tournament, with or without Vanderbilt in the lineup.
“Could they be in the Sweet 16? Yes,” Lunardi said. “I think that’s it though.”
Kentucky will open the SEC Tournament in St. Louis with the winner of Missouri’s matchup with Georgia. The Tigers will be favored, especially with the return of 5-star forward Michael Porter Jr.