Last Sunday when John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats returned to Lexington after having won the SEC Tournament, UK’s coach was asked about his team’s draw in the NCAA Tournament. As anyone who follows Kentucky Basketball would have expected, Cal got a few digs in at the Selection Committee (“We got murderer’s row, we just got home and we ‘re playing on Thursday?). And naturally, the rest of the college basketball world made note of Cal “whining.”
For the more astute fan, one would realize Cal’s comments were directed more at the fact that the results of the SEC Tournament have zero bearing on the Selection Committee’s decisions. You don’t get rewarded by winning the SEC tourney, but you certainly get punished if you lose. But many national pundits and more than a few rival fans decided it was whining.
I’d rather have that Sec Championship than to win the tourney and get put against Davidson, Zona, and UVA. UK out quick
— KnoxVillan (@JDubb865) March 15, 2018
Of course, Calipari continued his comments by noting that you have to play whoever is in front of you and that his team “was built for this.” And, as has been the norm since Cal arrived at Kentucky, regardless of how the regular season has gone, his team is almost always ready for March.
Davidson, as expected, was a tough opening round game. The Cats proved, however, that their struggles from the regular season were just preparation for March Madness and they defeated a scrappy Davidson team that made 11 3-pointers while making exactly ZERO themselves.
The 2nd round was supposed to be a matchup against Arizona, but we all know what happened. Buffalo ended the other Wildcats’ season in glorious fashion. It wasn’t even close. The good Wildcats, however, kept the Bulls in check and defeated them by 20 points.
Meanwhile, in the upper portion of UK’s bracket, the tourney’s overall #1 seed Virginia was making history, and not the good kind. For the first time ever, a 16-seed (University of Maryland Baltimore County) pummelled UVA. It wasn’t a miraculous Hail Mary or a controversial officiating call. It was a good old-fashioned butt-whoopin’. And just like that, Kentucky’s path to the Final Four appeared to become so much easier.
So what is the reaction of the national media?
Kentucky has beaten a 12 seed, a 13 seed and will get either an 8 or 16(!) seed in the sweet sixteen in Cat-friendly Atlanta. Anyone remember Sunday, when Cal was complaining about how hard his draw was?
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 17, 2018
I know a Final Four run is always special, but does Kentucky really want to get there …. against this competition in the South?
— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) March 19, 2018
Apparently, Kentucky is now responsible for higher seeds failing to win the games they were supposed to win and the Cats should be embarrassed to reach the Final Four should they win 2 games in Atlanta next week because the opponents are not the ones everyone expected to be there.
Does Duke ever get these comments when they have an easy path (albeit one they have stumbled on more than once) to the Final Four? Do the national pundits wring their hands about North Carolina getting to play a lower-than-expected seed? The answer to both of those questions is a definitive “No.”
So why does Kentucky get this honor? It’s so simple: the hatred is real. Perhaps now more than ever, they simply “hate us ’cause they ain’t us.” Well, keep piling on folks. Keep trash talking the Cats. Meanwhile, Cal’s team will continue to play whoever is in front of them and hopefully keep dancing right on to San Antonio.
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