LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I apologize if I’ve already said this, but John Calipari has never seen an NCAA Tournament draw that he couldn’t second-guess, tweak or improve.
Calipari is so convinced that the Tournament Selection Committee is motivated to make things unreasonable for Kentucky that he starts floating warnings several weeks before the draw.
This year one of his predicted fears was Kentucky would be placed in the same regional with “That Team.”
I don’t believe he was talking about Abilene Christian.
I do believe he was talking about Zion Williamson University.
If Kentucky plays Duke in the 2019 NCAA Tournament it will be a tournament to remember because that cannot happen until the championship game.
Official word arrived Sunday evening when the Wildcats were awarded the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional. Duke, the overall top seed, rules the East Regional.
Kentucky did not get a good draw in this tournament.
Kentucky got a great draw in this tournament. I expect to see the Wildcats in Minneapolis at the Final Four.
Here are Five Round-by-Round reasons you won’t convince me otherwise:
1. Abilene Christian is two players shy of a load.
Ken Pomeroy has shared his win probability numbers for the opening round. His formula projected the Wildcats’ likelihood of winning against Abilene Christian at 93 percent. (The game will be played 7:10 p.m. Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla.)
Take the over. Vegas installed UK as a 20-point favorite.
Abilene Christian, also nicknamed the Wildcats, made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six seasons as a Division I program. They did it without winning the Southland Conference regular season title.
Chew on that: Abilene Christian was the Southland Conference runner-up.
Abilene Christian played one team with a Top 150 computer rating all season. They lost by 34 to Texas Tech.
That was before coach Joe Golding dismissed two of his six best players for violating university policy. Southland Conference team are 10-28 all-time in the tournament.
Nothing to see here. On to round two.
2. Dig Past the Wofford Media Hype.
In the second round, Kentucky is likely to play No. 7 seed Wofford, unless the Terriers are upset by Kevin Willard and Seton Hall, the 10-seed.
Yes, UK lost to Seton Hall by a point in overtime at Madison Square Garden in December.
That was before the Pirates staggered through the Big East, losing half their 18 games. They’re a 10-seed that could have been an 11-seed.
Pomeroy has Seton Hall listed as a five-point underdog against Wofford, the media darlings that won all 18 of their games in the Southern Conference.
I don’t care if you’re playing in the Tuesday Night Steelworkers League, going 18-0 in any conference is impressive.
Check the fine print: The Terriers scheduled four games against Top 40 competition — North Carolina, Kansas, Oklahoma and Mississippi State.
They went 0-4 — regardless of what Seth Davis will try to convince you.
3. This isn’t Elvin Hayes/Hakeem Olajuwon Houston Basketball.
If form holds, Kentucky would play its regional semifinal game against Houston in Kansas City.
Houston won its first 15. The Cougars won 27 of their first 28.
They also lost two of their last six. They start one guy taller than 6 feet 5. And they’ve won one NCAA Tournament game since 1984.
4. Kansas isn’t in Kentucky’s Area Code.
There are two heavyweights atop the Midwest Regional — No. 4 seed Kansas and No. 1 seed North Carolina.
Playing Kansas in Kansas City sounds like a daunting task but this is the least imposing Kansas team in years, a team that failed to win the Big 12 tournament or regular-season titles.
Injuries. NCAA issues. Rumors about Bill Self departing for the NBA. Lack of bulk.
This is not Mario Chalmers/Wayne Selden/Frank Mason Kansas.
This is a Kansas team ranked behind Virginia Tech, Iowa State and Louisville by Pomeroy.
Oh, yeah. Almost forgot: Kentucky 71, Kansas 63.
5. North Carolina Shouldn’t Scare Kentucky.
There is a reason many people were not talking about North Carolina as a No. 1 seed a month ago.
The Tar Heels lost Texas, an NIT team, by three. And to Michigan by 17. And to Kentucky by 8. And to Louisville by 21 in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels did beat Duke twice without Zion Williamson, but they also feasted on a lot of chum at the bottom of the ACC.
If UK got a No. 2 seed in this tournament, Calipari did not want to be in a regional with Duke. Instead, he was put in a regional with No. 1 and No. 4 seeds that his team has already defeated.
Kentucky did not get a good draw from those unfair folks with the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
They got a great one.
- FIRST GLANCE: Kentucky earns No. 2 seed in Midwest region, will face Abilene Christian
- PRINTABLE BRACKET | Make your NCAA Tournament picks here
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