Selection Sunday left UK fans with expected frustration as it seemed like Calipari received yet another screw job from the NCAA.
It looked inevitable that Kentucky would have a murder’s row of tough competition to even make it to the South regional semi-finals in Atlanta, much less advancing to San Antonio’s Final Four.
A week later and we now know that Kentucky will not have to defeat a team seeded higher than 7th to make a Final Four. Um, okay!
I do not want to take anything for granted, but the path is looking good. Really good.
How did the top seeds perform in the South Region?
#1 Virginia – Deuces!
You probably don’t want to hear any more story lines about this historic game. GMBC destroyed Virginia 74-54, in what is being called one of the greatest upsets in SPORTS history. Not just in the NCAA tournament. A 16 seed winning for the first time just provides evidence of how incredibly insane 2018 March Madness has been.
Props to Tony Bennett for handling the situation with class, he is a respectable dude.
Bennett’s post game comments:
“We got our butts whipped. That was not even close. That’s first a credit to the job Ryan did, coach Odom. Their offense was very hard to guard. They shot it well. We kept getting broken down and did a poor job.I told our guys, we had a historic season. A historic season in terms of most wins in the ACC. A week ago we’re cutting down the nets and the confetti is falling. And then we make history by being the first one-seed to lose. I’m sure a lot of people will be happy about that. And it stings. I told the guys, this is life. It can’t define you. You enjoyed the good times and you gotta be able to take the bad times. When you step into the arena, the consequences can be historic losses, tough losses, great wins, and you have to deal with it. That’s the job. But we got throughly out-played. Did not play well. We had a hard time with their mobile fours and their four guards. I don’t know what to say but that. That was a thorough butt whipping.”
Virginia is so boring. Not sorry to see them bounce out early.
#2 Cincinatti – Holla!
In one of the most colossal melt-downs I have ever seen, somehow, the Bearcats blew a 22 point lead with 11 minutes to go against Nevada. I will repeat that just so it is crystal clear for everyone. The Cincinnati Bearcats, coached by Mick Cronin, blew a 22 point lead with 11 minutes to go in the NCAA tournament! ESPN had Cincy’s chances to win at 99.9% near the 10 minute mark. Unbelievable!
Oh, Mick Cronin is not a class act dude.
Cronin’s post game comments:
“Doesn’t matter to me. You care about the Sweet 16, I don’t. I care about winning a national championship.”
They kind of go hand in hand, Mick. But we can’t fault you for not knowing how the NCAA tournament works.
#3 Tennessee – Bye, Bye!
I was actually pulling for the Vols. As we discussed on the “Cats by 90” podcast after the SEC tournament, it’s hard not to like a guy like Admiral Schofield.
Tennessee was taken down by cinderella story Loyola by a score of 63-62 in a thriller. Nothing but respect for Rick Barnes and the Vols.
There will be many heated SEC battles to come with those guys.
#4 Arizona – Kick Rocks!
In my opinion, Arizona getting thrashed by Buffalo was the best news of all for Kentucky. It allowed the Cats to avoid a match-up with Deandre Ayton and carved a relatively easy path to the sweet 16.
I have spoken my peace about Sean Miller. He is awful. Miller has virtually nothing to show for all that talent he has year in and year out. He has to go. Right?
Now the Arizona Wildcats await their fate with the wire tap scandal. Good times.
Who is left?
#9 Kansas State:
I have to be honest, I had absolutely no idea Bruce Weber was still a division I coach. But he in fact is, and has led his K-State Wildcats to an overall 24-11 record and a Sweet 16 birth.
The biggest story line in this game will be the uncertain status of a key player. No, not Jarred Vanderbilt. Kansas State’s leading scorer and rebounder Dean Wade has not played in the last 3 games, including both NCAA tournament wins. It is hard to imagine K-State being able to defeat Kentucky without his 16.5 points per game.
But March Madness has proven time and time again that all logic is out the window.
Wade was quoted as saying “It will be hard to keep me out of this one.” I would expect him to try and give it a go.
If you have to wake up early on Friday, you probably want to get a nap in. The game will tip off around 10 pm on Thursday night in Atlanta. Win or lose, I know I will have some trouble winding down after it’s all said and done. I mean, the Elite 8 is on the line.
The late game time may even have an effect on the players. That will be a lot of sitting around waiting, more than both teams are accustom to. The first 5 minutes will be critical.
Kentucky needs to come out with energy early and feed off that Catlanta crowd!
UK opened as a 5.5 point favorite.
K-State sends Cinderella home.
This is the Rambler’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1985 and they are riding the Cinderella wave all the way to the Sweet 16.
Porter Moser’s team has already proven they have the talent to take down the SEC regular season champions with a 63-62 win over Tennessee in the round of 32.
Clayton Custer is their top scorer at 13 points a game. He had a miraculous game winning shot bounce around on the rim and finally drop in to top the Vols. The basketball Gods seriously seem to be fond of the Ramblers.
The media is really building the hype around mega supporter, Sister Jean. Not even getting into it, google her if you’d like.
I believe Nevada to be the toughest obstacle standing between Kentucky and the Final Four. In one of the craziest games in NCAA history, Nevada’s furious comeback against Cincinatti proves that they are never out of a game.
The wolf-Pack have four players averaging over 13 points a game. Including the Martin twins.
Caleb Martin – 18.8
Jordan Caroline – 17.7
Cody Martin – 13.9
Kendall Stephens – 13.4
Uk fans may remember Ronald and Donnell Taylor from UAB’s 2004 team that upset #1 seeded Kentucky. No more tough losses to twins.
I have a feeling it will be the Cats vs. the Wolf-Pack with a trip to San Antonio on the line.
The Big Blue Nation should taper the excitement. There is still big time business to take care of.
But damn, how good does it feel to catch some breaks in March?
Sharpen those scissors, nets are being cut!