BOZICH | Calipari is right: Something smells with Kentucky's NCAA four seed
John Calipari sometimes thinks people are against him or Kentucky. He's right in questioning the Wildcats four-seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Sometimes I roll my eyes at Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. He can look into an Easter basket of jelly beans and see somebody out to get him or the Wildcats.
Today Calipari has reason to HOWL.
Check Kentucky’s path in the NCAA Tournament bracket.
The committee gave the Wildcats the four seed in the East Regional, even though four of the computer rankings that the committee studies show Kentucky deserved nothing worse than a three seed. I looked it up.
Follow the S-curve the committee used to place the 68 teams in the bracket. You’ll discover the committee ranked Kentucky the 15th best team in the field.
Go back to those four computer rankings. None has Kentucky ranked worse than 12th.
The Wildcats are ranked as high as eighth by Ken Pomeroy and as low as 12th by Kevin Pauga. They’re also 10th in Sagarin predictor and 11th in the Ratings Percentage Index.
That is definitely three-seed material. That is not potentially play Indiana-North Carolina-West Virginia back-to-back-to-back material.
Kentucky certainly deserved a better seed than the Southeastern Conference team that the Wildcats defeated in the SEC Tournament final Sunday – Texas A&M.
Return to those computer rankings. The Wildcats are ranked at least three spots ahead of the Aggies in all four rankings. Pomeroy has UK nine slots ahead of A&M.
Look at the path the Wildcats will have to travel if they expect to proceed to the Final Four. The CBS/Turner sports programming department could not have done a better job of trying to cook the ratings.
First, a first-round game on Thursday against Stony Brook in Des Moines, Iowa. Games with programs like Stony Brook are what you expect in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. No big deal. No reason to call the CIA.
After that, Kentucky did not draw the respect that the Wildcats earned for winning a share of the SEC regular-season title as well as the league’s tournament. After that, it’s appointment TV viewing, ratings gold for the networks.
If the seeding holds, the Wildcats figure to play Indiana (seeded fifth), North Carolina (first) and Xavier (second).
Indiana won the Big Ten regular season title and has a fractured relationship with the Wildcats that resulted in the cancellation of the annual series between the schools four years ago. Calipari and IU coach Tom Crean are friends, who joked they would be matched against each other. Plenty to sell there.
North Carolina won the ACC regular season and conference tournament titles. North Carolina vs. Kentucky. Steph Curry and Lebron James will make sure to watch that one, especially for a regional semifinal (booked in Philadelphia). You can hear Dick Vitale saying, "Are you kidding me?"
Xavier has been rated among the nation’s top half-dozen teams for the last two months. But look past the Musketeers.
There is one other program that could enter the conversation. That would be West Virginia.
I’m certain it’s more coincidence than conspiracy, but somebody loves putting Calipari and West Virginia coach Bob Huggins in the same quadrant of the bracket.
The programs played in 2010 in a regional final. They played in 2011 in the second round. They played last season in the Sweet Sixteen. That would translate into four UK-West Virginia games in seven seasons. Kentucky doesn’t play Tennessee as much as it plays the Mountaineers.
I know the arguments against Kentucky.
Five losses to teams that failed to make the NCAA Tournament. The ugly 20-point stumble against Ohio State. The Louisiana State debacle. The Auburn debacle. The Tennessee debacle.
So are these: Texas A&M lost to 15-17 Arizona State. The Aggies lost to Arkansas, South Carolina and Alabama, three teams that failed to make the NCAA Tournament.
That's the three-seed in the West Regional?
Allow me to share this nugget with you: The good folks at VegasInsider.com posted the future odds for winning the tournament before the bracket was announced.
Kentucky was a four in Vegas – the fourth overall pick to win the entire tournament. The future odds on UK were 11-1, the same as Oklahoma, the second seed in the West Regional.
The only three teams with shorter odds than the Wildcats were Michigan State, Kansas and North Carolina.
That’s correct. You could get a better price on a one-seed (Virginia, 18-to-1) than you could on Kentucky.
Where was Texas A&M on the Las Vegas board?
Precisely where you’d expect the Aggies to be – the 25th overall choice with odds of 65 to 1.
I’m sure the tournament selection committee has an explanation. It’s just not an explanation that works. I see the same conspiracy in this basket of jelly beans.
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