BOZICH | 5 thoughts on Kentucky's no-complaints NCAA Tournament - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | 5 thoughts on Kentucky's no-complaints NCAA Tournament draw

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John Calipari's Kentucky team earned the top overall Two-Seed in the NCAA Tournament. John Calipari's Kentucky team earned the top overall Two-Seed in the NCAA Tournament.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Last year, John Calipari squawked about Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament path.

Didn’t appreciate his Wildcats getting a four seed. Thought they had earned a three. Didn’t think it was funny the Wildcats were wedged into the bracket one game away from his buddy, Tom Crean, who coaches Indiana.

Not much for Calipari to howl about Sunday with the 2017 NCAA Tournament draw.

The Selection Committee made the Wildcats the top overall No. 2 seed, launching them into the tournament Friday in Indianapolis, an easy drive for the Kentucky faithful. They’re the second seed in the South Regional.

They’ll play a Northern Kentucky program that was a Division II program five years ago. This is the first season the Norse have been eligible for the Division I tournament. NKU lost 10 of 34 games.

There’s also this: The South’s No. 1 seed is a team that Kentucky has already beaten – North Carolina.

Five More Thoughts on Kentucky’s Fine NCAA Tournament Draw:

1. Kentucky, Easy

Northern Kentucky isn’t going to beat Kentucky. I know the Norse won the Horizon League. That’s the league Butler used to dominate. Butler had more than its share of fun in the NCAA Tournament.

But Butler wasn’t a 15-seed when the Bulldogs did their marvelous work under Brad Stevens.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, the Norse are the eighth-worst team to make the field. According to Jeff Sagarin’s computer formula, Kentucky should be favored by 21 points. Pomeroy makes it UK by 19.

2. Has Northern Kentucky Beaten Anybody?

Not really.

According to Pomeroy, the Norse have one Top 100 win – and that deserves a closer look. Northern Kentucky finished its regular season beating Valparaiso, a team Pomeroy ranked 97th.

That’s not the same Valpo team that Kentucky handled by 24 on Dec. 7. Valpo was without Alec Peters, the best player in the Horizon League.

It was Peters’ injury that opened the door for Northern Kentucky, the Horizon tournament after the Norse finished third during the regular season behind Valpo and Oakland.

Northern Kentucky has played two teams that made the 68-team NCAA field. The Norse lost at West Virginia, 92-61. As expected. Northern Kentucky also lost to North Carolina Central, 82-74.

3. Two Hot Coaches Await

You have my OK to peek at the remainder of the bracket. Game Two is guaranteed to be juicy as the Wildcats will face either Dayton or Wichita State.

They’re both solid teams with NCAA Tournament pedigrees. They’re also coached by guys showing up on the lists of candidates for many of the jobs that have already opened.

Archie Miller of Dayton has now coached the Flyers into the NCAA tournament four straight seasons. In 2014, Dayton lost an Elite Eight game to Florida. In 2015 Dayton cruised into the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Oklahoma.

He’s a rising star, mentioned for openings at North Carolina State (his alma mater), Illinois and Missouri.

Wichita State deserved better than a 10-seed from the committee. Much better. Pomeroy ranked the Shockers the eighth-best team in the country – ahead of Kansas, which is the top seed in the Midwest.


The Shockers are ranked 12th in offensive efficiency and 19th in defensive efficiency. That’s the profile of a Final Four team. Gregg Marshall took Wichita to the 2013 Final Four. He’s a terrific coach.

Wichita State lacks quality non-league wins. The Shockers lost to Louisville, Michigan State and Oklahoma State. But they’ve won 21 of their last 22 games.

4. Rematch City

To get to Phoenix, Kentucky must win the South Regional in Memphis. To win in Memphis, Kentucky would likely have to defeat two teams the Wildcats played in December.

First would be the three-seed, UCLA. The Bruins beat the Wildcats by five in Rupp Arena on the first Saturday in December. UCLA finished third in the Pac-12. Some say they’re the best offensive team in the nation. But they’re also dealing with injuries to their two star freshmen – point guard Lonzo Ball (hand) and forward T.J. Leaf (ankle).

Two weeks later, Kentucky took down North Carolina by three in Las Vegas.

The Tar Heels rallied from that loss and won the ACC regular-season title. UNC lost two of its last four, falling at Virginia and then again to Duke in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.

5. Royalty Regional

Better bring your credentials if you’re coming to Memphis. If the seeding holds, it will be a regional of basketball royalty.

UCLA has won more NCAA titles than any program – make it 11, although the Bruins have not scored since 1995.

There’s a three-title gap back to Kentucky, which won its eighth championship in 2012 when Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist won in New Orleans.

North Carolina has five. Roy Williams has won two of them, scoring in 2005 against Illinois in St. Louis and again in 2009 against Michigan State in Detroit.

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