It is very bad when an athlete is hurt. Bad. However, would I rather lose to Kentucky at a 43 RPI or win against Kentucky at a 60 RPI, I think the answer is clear.
The season-ending ACL tear suffered by Nerlens Noel on Tuesday has the sports world again debating whether players should be able to jump straight into the NBA from high school. (Sorry, but just about every company has some form of hiring requirements, whether it’s a college degree or a minimum age. The NBA can set its own rules.)
Noel’s injury also has many college basketball writers predicting doom for Kentucky’s Wildcats. (They weren’t a great team before, but they at least had potential to make a deep tourney run. Now that’ll be much tougher.)
But there’s one nugget that hasn’t been discussed — how Noel’s injury will hurt the SEC’s other tourney hopefuls. Granted, there aren’t many SEC teams inside the NCAA Tournament bubble in the first place.
Florida is a lock. Missouri will be in barring a collapse. Ole Miss is playing its way out of the tourney by losing four of its last five in a weak SEC. Alabama and Texas A&M are long shots at best.
Kentucky looks like a tourney team — barely — based on its current numbers: an RPI of 43, a record of 17-7. Trouble is, if UK starts losing without Noel, the Cats’ RPI will start to fall. And if Kentucky’s RPI falls, the RPI numbers for all the SEC’s teams will fall right along with it. A win over a Kentucky team with an RPI of 43 is one thing. A win over a Kentucky team with an RPI of 53 or 63 is another.
So in case the non-Wildcat fans out there needed another reason to feel bad about the big man’s injury… there you have it. Noel’s injury could hurt your team on Selection Sunday, too.