February 14, 2013
Kentucky's a new team without Nerlens Noel.
It will be considered as such by the NCAA selection committee when March rolls around.
The committee chair said UK will be predominantly evaluated as a team without Noel because there are enough games left to do so and get a fair, accurate assessment, according to ESPN's Andy Katz.
UK's remaining schedule: at Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Mississippi State, at Arkansas, at Georgia, Florida, then the SEC tournament.
Seven games and a bracket to determine whether the Cats are worthy of inclusion to the Big Dance.
The closing stretch of games provides challenges: at Arkansas has proven to be a tough place for SEC teams to play, and Florida will be a heavy favorite, even at Rupp Arena. Missouri, though sliding, figures to be a tough test.
It's difficult to say just how UK will respond to Noel's absence. Not only was he their most productive player -- John Calipari said the rest of the team will each have to give "three-to-four percent more," especially the frontcourt players -- but he was also their most energetic. Will the Wildcats reel from the loss of their emotional leader? Will they regroup and come together?
The answer will decide their NCAA tournament fate.