The Kentucky men’s basketball team will be the No. 4 seed in the annual Southeastern Conference Tournament when action begins Wednesday in St. Louis. The Wildcats, who earned the coveted double bye, will play the winner of No. 5 Missouri and No. 12 Georgia/No. 13 Vanderbilt on Friday in St. Louis at approximately 3:25 p.m. ET in the quarterfinals.
Kentucky’s three-year SEC regular-season title defense came to an end this year (Auburn and Tennessee shared honors), but the Wildcats have still positioned themselves for a possible sixth SEC Tournament championship in John Calipari’s ninth season.
The Wildcats will need two wins to advance to their eighth SEC Tournament title game in nine seasons under Calipari. This will be the first time UK has been lower than a No. 2 seed (conference or division) in the SEC Tournament with Calipari at the helm, but the Wildcats have earned a double bye in every season since it went into effect in 2013.
The tournament is expected to be wide open after a highly competitive and tightly bunched regular season among the league’s teams. As many as nine teams are projected to get into the NCAA Tournament with several schools looking to strengthen their postseason profile for an at-large berth.
UK’s quarterfinal SEC Tournament game will be televised by ESPN. If Kentucky wins Friday, it would play Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. Sunday’s championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET. Both of the semifinals and championship game will be televised on ESPN.
Kentucky leads the league with 30 SEC Tournament titles, including five under Calipari. UK has captured each of the last three titles. The Wildcats are 130-25 all-time in the SEC Tournament, including 43-11 in the quarterfinals.
UK split its two regular-season meetings with Mizzou, swept Vanderbilt in its two games and defeated Georgia in the lone meeting.
In the SEC Tournament, Kentucky has never faced Mizzou, owns an 11-1 mark vs. Georgia but is only 4-5 vs. Vanderbilt. The Commodores are the only team UK has a losing record against in the SEC Tournament.
Also on Kentucky’s side of the bracket is top-seeded Auburn, No. 8 seed Texas A&M and No. 9 seed Alabama.
This year will mark the league’s first SEC Tournament in St. Louis and the first one west of the Mississippi River after three seasons at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Games will be played at the Scottrade Center.
The last time UK played in the Scottrade Center was during the memorable 2014 NCAA Tournament run. UK defeated Kansas State in the opening round of the games before knocking off previously undefeated and top-seeded Wichita State in a thriller to advance to the Sweet 16.
Tickets for the SEC Tournament are on sale at Ticketmaster.com.
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