MARCH 11, 2012 9:30 PM ET
Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina tried to manufacture some chaos before the brackets came out. Like a group of 7-foot forwards roaming the middle, the members of the NCAA selection committee simply swatted all that noise away.
Even though they lost over the weekend, the Wildcats, Orange and Tar Heels turned out to be what they thought they were: top seeds – all armed with a well-timed bit of humble pie as they gear up for a run through the NCAA tournament they hope will end at the Final Four in New Orleans.
”It’s done now,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said of the 24-game winning streak that ended Sunday with a surprising loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament final. ”Now let’s just go onto these three weekends. We’ve got a weekend in front of us. It’s going to be a bear. Know what? Good. Throw anything you want to at us.”
Michigan State earned the last No. 1 seed and was the only one of the four top-billed teams to win its conference tournament. The Spartans defeated Ohio State 68-64 in the Big Ten title game Sunday – a contest widely viewed as the game for the last No. 1 seed, even if selection committee chairman Jeff Hathaway wouldn’t quite go there.
”As it turned out, this game put the No. 1 seed into the field,” he said.
While No. 2 seeds Kansas, Duke, Missouri and Ohio State wonder whether they could have been rated higher, teams such as Drexel, Seton Hall, Mississippi State and Pac-12 regular-season champion Washington curse what might have been. Those bubble teams were left out, and all will be wondering how Iona, California and South Florida made it.
The Big East led all conferences with nine teams, including defending national champion Connecticut, a dangerous No. 9 seed, conference tournament winner Louisville and, of course, Syracuse, which cruised through most of the season with only one loss.
”I think it’s going to help us a little bit,” coach Jim Boeheim said of the second defeat, Friday to Cincinnati in the Big East tournament. ”I think players, when they’re winning, they kind of excuse their mistakes. I think we finally got their attention. I think they’ll be a better team going forward than they were last week.”
There were 11 at-large teams from the so-called mid-major conferences, four more than last year and the most since 2004 when 12 made it. Though the committee claims not to consider a team’s conference when it picks the bracket, this was nonetheless a nod to the free-for-all this tournament can be. Last year, 4,000-student Butler finished as national runner-up for the second straight season, while VCU, of the Colonial Athletic Conference, went from one of the last teams in the draw, all the way to the Final Four.
Who might this year’s VCU be?
It’s the question being asked across the country, as those $10 and $20-a-pop brackets start getting inked in at spring training sites, corporate board rooms and everywhere else across America. The tournament starts Tuesday with first-round games and gets into full swing Thursday and Saturday, with 64 teams in action.
”There were 112 teams with more than 20 wins,” Hathaway said. ”We talked a lot about parity at the high end of the field and about quality throughout the field. Bottom line, it was about who did you play, where’d you play them and how did you do?”
Some losses, though, were less important than others, and apparently, losing in the conference tournament didn’t cost Syracuse, Kentucky or North Carolina. Those losses could have created chaos in the bracket, but the committee had the teams more or less cemented into top spots.
”Seeding really doesn’t matter too much,” Tar Heels guard P.J. Hairston said after Carolina’s loss to Florida State in the ACC title game Sunday, but before he knew his team would have a `1′ by its name. ”As long as you get in the dance, it’s an equal opportunity to get to the Final Four.”
Led by freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, either of whom could be one-and-done in Calipari’s turnover-heavy program, the Wildcats are the No. 1 overall seed. Kentucky was placed in the South region and potentially could play six games without having to leave the Southeast.
Kentucky will open its 52nd NCAA tournament appearance in Louisville against the winner of a first-round game between Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky, but it gets tougher from there. A possible second-round opponent is UConn, with No. 4 Indiana possibly waiting beyond that. Before Sunday, the Hoosiers – who return to the tournament after a four-year drought – were the only team to beat Kentucky this season.
”The win streak? That’s done now. The fact that we were invincible? That’s done now,” Calipari said. ”We’re going to be in a dogfight. That’s how you have to approach this.”
Second-seeded Duke got serious consideration for moving up to a No. 1, but an 18-point loss to North Carolina in the regular-season finale and a loss to Florida State in the ACC tournament certainly hurt. The Blue Devils are on the same side of the bracket with 11th-seeded Colorado, a team that got snubbed last year but won its way into the bracket this time by taking the Pac-12 tournament.
The Pac-12 was woefully weak this year, placing only two teams and leaving Washington on the outside. This marked the first time the regular-season champion of a power conference got left out.
”Our guys are very, very disappointed, because I don’t think after winning the conference outright they couldn’t see any way we would not be in this tournament in their minds,” Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said.
In the West, Michigan State will begin its quest for its seventh Final Four since 1999 against No. 16 LIU. The bottom of the West draw features No. 2 Missouri, which won the Big 12 tournament but got penalized for a weak nonconference schedule.
”That hasn’t changed at all over the years,” Hathaway said, when asked whether the committee rewards programs that beef up their schedules.
In the East region, Syracuse opens against UNC Asheville with a possible third-round matchup against Jared Sullinger and Ohio State. Other games include No. 3 Florida State, which went 4-1 against Duke and North Carolina this year, against No. 14 St. Bonaventure, which was a surprise winner of the A-10 conference tournament and took a bubble spot away.
”We had five teams on the board, and we were talking about those five teams all morning and through that game to see where they’d be going,” Hathaway said. ”There was a lot of conversation about those last five teams.”
Among the five Hathaway could have been talking about were Miami, Northwestern, Nevada, Oral Roberts and, of course, Drexel, which missed despite its 27-6 record. All had flaws, as did Iona, though the Gaels’ strength of schedule appeared to carry them through.
”We tried to play teams or conferences ranked above ours, and most of those games we really had to play on the road to get those games,” Iona coach Tim Cluess said. ”We spent seven, eight weeks in a row on the road this year, but those were the teams we had to play to give ourselves a chance.”
Hathaway said the committee gave Kansas heavy consideration as a No. 1 team. The Jayhawks, however, lost to Baylor in the Big 12 semifinals.
”We’re fine with it,” coach Bill Self said. ”I don’t think we deserve to be better than a 2. We may have been if we’d played well in (the Big 12 tournament), but we didn’t. I think after everyone gets through talking about the seeds, it’s about matchups anyway.”
Among the most intriguing would be a Midwest regional final pitting No. 1 North Carolina and former Jayhawks coach Roy Williams against Kansas – a game that would be played in St. Louis.
March 11, 2012
Kentucky has received the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed and will serve as the top seed in the South Region. UK will play the winner of the first-round game of Mississippi Valley State (21-12) and Western Kentucky (15-18) on Thursday, March 15 in Louisville, Ky., with a 6:50 p.m. ET tip. The game will air live on TBS with Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery on the call.
The No. 1 seed is the 11th in school history for the Wildcats, who will play their second and third round games in Louisville. This is just the third time in school history UK will play in the Derby City during the NCAA Tournament. In its last appearance in Louisville, Kentucky defeated Morehead State before losing to Ohio State during the 1961 tournament.
Kentucky has played in its home state on seven previous occasions. UK was last in the Bluegrass State during the 1984 tournament when the Wildcats appeared on their home floor, defeating Louisville and Illinois.
Western Kentucky won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship this year, claiming an automatic bid into the NCAA Championship. UK is 3-2 all-time versus Western Kentucky with the last meeting coming in 2001 when WKU defeated the Wildcats 64-52.
Kentucky and the Hilltoppers have met twice before in the NCAA Tournament with the squads splitting the two meetings. WKU captured a win over the Wildcats during the 1971 tournament, with UK prevailing 71-64 in 1986.
The Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, coached by former UK letter winner Sean Woods, won the 2012 SWAC Tournament Championship, claiming an automatic bid into the 2012 NCAA Championship. The Wildcats are 3-0 all-time vs. the Delta Devils including an 85-60 win a season ago. A matchup with the Delta Devils during the post-season would be a program first.
If UK prevails over Mississippi Valley State or Western Kentucky, it will face the winner of eighth-seeded Iowa State (22-10) and ninth-seeded UConn (20-13) on Saturday, March 17.
Kentucky is 1-0 during the NCAA Tournament against the Cyclones with the lone victory coming during the 1992 season. UK owns an all-time mark of 2-0 against Iowa State. In addition to the 1992 Tournament game, Kentucky earned a home victory in 1965.
UK has faced the Huskies twice before, dropping both matchups including last season’s 65-55 loss in the Final Four. Connecticut owns an all-time record of 4-1 against Kentucky. UK’s lone victory came during the 2009 season.
Also joining Kentucky in Louisville will be four teams from the West Region including Murray State, Colorado State, Marquette and the winner of the BYU/Iona play-in.
Should the Wildcats advance past the second and third rounds, they will play in Atlanta, in the South Regional Semifinals on March 22-23. If UK continues to win, it will play in the South Regional Finals on March 24-25 with a victory moving the Wildcats to the National Semifinals on March 31. The National Championship game is scheduled for April 2 in New Orleans.
Tickets for the first and second round games in Louisville are sold out with the exception of All-Session packages. However, tickets for Regional Semifinal and Regional Final in Atlanta are available online at ticketmaster.com or available through the host site.
UK will hold a student lottery on Monday, March 12 at 5:00 pm at Memorial Coliseum for the second and third round games in Louisville. Students should refer to the student basketball website for complete details.
Game times and the ensuing schedule of events will not be available from the NCAA until Monday.
Quotes from the NCAA Selection Show Media Opportunity – March 11, 2012
Head Coach John Calipari
On the bracket …
“I really haven’t looked at the bracket, I keep hearing everyone say we are in the toughest region but that’s what was expected. I’m happy we’re not playing on Tuesday. First game will be hard, second game will be like a war and if we are lucky enough to move on from there then it’s one thing after another. They stacked the region and that’s OK, we’ll play all comers now and I imagine where we go there will be a lot of blue. It’s not going to be like, I’ve had teams that had to go to Houston and play Texas in front of 35,000 Texas fans; we had to play Texas A&M in San Antonio in front of 35,000 Aggies so I’ve had stuff thrown at my teams before. It’s fun, I’ve got a good team, and I’m ready to get to work. I’m probably going to give these guys tomorrow off completely, just let them get their senses back and get off the court and get their minds back. I think that’s what I’m going to do, I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. I’m sensing three games in three days; we don’t really need to do anything tomorrow.”
On preparation for Thursday …
“Well the good news is that we don’t really know who we play until Tuesday so to practice Monday and Tuesday we will really just be practicing on our stuff, we won’t be going over anything we have to do vs. them. This team has responded, today, for the first time in the last four minutes of the game we didn’t make shots. I’ll be honest with you, I was stunned and I mean they were wide open shots with no one near and we just missed, that happens. I’d rather it happen now than next weekend or the following weekend or the following weekend, do it now. We had our chances, I watched the tape coming back and marked it off, we were up four with whatever and still up two with whatever and had our chance, missed another wide open one, I was like, ‘wow.’ It was unusual for us but that stuff happens, it was a physical game and they let it go, they let the pushing and shoving go. Hopefully you get in the tournament and all that stuff gets called and we’ll be fine.”
On playing in Louisville …
“I would say that I hope it’s a blue building, I hope Atlanta, if we are lucky enough to move on would be blue, but you don’t know if we can move on because you are talking about one of these two teams that we have to play the first game and then the second game either Iowa State or Connecticut I believe it is. Again, I have not looked at the bracket; I know to that point, who is in Louisville with us. Those are all hard; those are ones we’ll be lucky to win.”
On how their region strikes him …
“Not (well) at all, the only thing I was happy about is I heard that they were trying to get an exemption for the (Miami) Heat to be the second seed in our bracket and they weren’t allowed to get that so they couldn’t put them in there.”
On the potential storylines being coincidental …
“I don’t know, I get disappointed though when I hear the USA Today article where two former chairmen were being derogatory. Which means, how can you really be in those positions and have those feelings towards programs or coaches and then be fair in how you lay this stuff out. It’s disappointing but it’s fine. I have a good basketball team so we’ll see.”
On his relationship with Mississippi Valley State coach Sean Woods …
“Great kid, great coach. He and I have stayed in touch. Obviously we played him here; he’s done a terrific job. We’re all proud of him because he is a good guy. Tony Barbee and him are really good friends. Tony and him are really good friend’s so I’ve known him for a long time.”
On three Kentucky teams playing in Louisville …
“Louisville won their league so I mean we have a lot of good basketball. Morehead, what they did last year, people here take pride in it. I just want to tell you, we were in New Orleans and it was incredible, the whole city was blue. I went to church yesterday, it was blue; I didn’t know there were that many Catholics in Kentucky. This is unique, a unique state and a unique state for basketball.”
On the toughness of winning six sudden-death games …
“I’ve been in this tournament a ton and I know seeds matter. I know because I’ve done this, when someone says it doesn’t matter, seeding matters. The matchups matter because there are some that get a path and then there is another guy that is in foxholes with bazooka shots coming at him and the other guy is running. So all that stuff matters, it is hard for everybody because it is a one and you’re done kind of game. Again, I enjoy going in with good teams and this is a good team, I had a good team last year. I told all you guys, I liked my team, last year. Even when we were losing games I liked my team because I looked around the country and I said, I like my team, I know these other teams are good but I like my team and I was pretty accurate. This year I’d tell you that we have to get our breath back, these last three games in three days, now you know why I don’t like those tournaments. I would have liked to win it today but just three days, one of my cousins hit me and said, ‘it looked like you guys lost some legs at the end of the game,’ and that may have been it, the third game in three days, we hadn’t done that this year. Again, I was begging the guys last night and today, sub yourself, do not stay in their tired. It’s hard for those guys, they are competitors.”
#1 Darius Miller, G, Sr.
On his first reaction to their draw …
“We were just happy to be the No. 1 overall seed especially with us losing today. It was a great feeling for us, we are proud of what we have done, we are proud of our accomplishments.”
On playing in Louisville…
“That should be an advantage to us. I feel like we will have a lot of fans there in Louisville.”
On their region …
“We have some really talented teams in our bracket, some really good teams. We’re going to have to play the best teams eventually, it doesn’t matter when you play them; we are going to have to play them regardless in order to win the championship. We just have to take it one game at a time; the same way we’ve been doing it all season.”
#3 Terrence Jones, F, So.
On their draw …
“It was what we expected, we’re going to have to respect every team that we play and just take it one game at a time.”
On UConn, Indiana and Duke being in their region …
“We have a lot of competition; we have to just take every game serious. We have a lot of motivation behind a lot of games to give ourselves more of an edge, it should just be fun.”
On today’s outcome …
“I’m just excited to be on this team with the opportunity we have, to be able to play in Louisville just right down the street. With the team we have and just being able to play some good teams and hopefully try to get the job done one game at a time.”
On the advantage of playing in Louisville …
“It should be real good. Our fans travel with us wherever we go, but it should make it easier on us and them. It being down the street should make it a real good outcome for us.”
On what he wished he would have known last year in the tournament …
“That the best teams playing the best basketball right now are who wins games, not really who was playing the best basketball throughout the season.”
On getting a “swagger” back by Thursday that they didn’t have this weekend …
“I feel we had it we were just playing teams that had a lot to play for. Playing them three times and for their seasons with the challenge of trying to beat the No. 1 team that swept through the conference regular season. They just played with a lot of energy.”
#14 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, G, Fr.
On his thoughts about his first NCAA Tournament …
“I’m just very excited now.”
On a potential matchup with Western Kentucky freshman guard Derrick Gordon, who he played high school ball with …
“He’s a brother to me. We’ll see.”
“I haven’t talked to him yet.”
On his feelings leading up to Kentucky’s first game in the NCAA Tournament …
“I can’t wait. I’m just very excited, very excited. It’s a dream come true.”
On what he’s most excited about …
“Trying to win it.”
On what the loss to Vanderbilt on Sunday does for them …
“It’s a lot of motivation for all of us on the team. I’m just ready to play, I’m ready to play.”
#20 Doron Lamb, G, So.
On his thoughts of the draw Kentucky received…
“We got hard teams in our bracket, but we can’t think of it like that. Last year we had the same thing and we still made it to the Final Four. We just have to get prepared and be ready when we play.”
On getting to play close to home…
“That’s a good thing for us. We’re playing in Louisville so we know we’ll have a lot of blue in there.”
On what he thinks the team needs to focus on…
“The main thing is just getting treatment and getting our bodies right for these next couple weeks because right now we are a little sore. We’re tired, we played three games straight – three tough games straight. Our bodies are hurt right now. Tomorrow we’ll get rest and get treatment.”
On coming back home after a loss…
“It hurt us that we lost, we should have won, but things happen. We didn’t make shots tonight. The last eight minutes of the half we just didn’t make any shots, foul shots or anything. That happens, but we can’t worry about that right now. We have to move that game to the past and get ready for who we play next.”
#23 Anthony Davis, F, Fr.
On not watching the Selection Show …
“I was (anxious), I’m not sure if anyone else was. I think everybody else was asleep. I was very anxious just to see. I’ve never been a part of a selection show before. I was just anxious to see how it all happens.”
On having Indiana as a possible Sweet 16 matchup, and Duke as a Regional Final potential matchup …
“They’re two great teams. I definitely want to play them. Indiana is a great ball club, beat us once. Duke is a great ball club – definitely want to play them as well. We’ll see how it all plays out.”
On if Sunday’s loss helps or hurts UK moving forward…
“I think it helps us. I think it motivates us more. I think we have a lot more motivation going into the tournament with a mindset that we have to destroy anybody that we play.”
On ‘the shot’ between Duke and Kentucky and if he knows of its history…
“A little bit. Christian Laettner hit it. I’m just ready to go out there and play, take every opponent and find ways to beat them.”
#25 Marquis Teague, G, Fr.
On playing in Louisville …
“We’re glad we get to play here in the state; our fans can come see us play and its close. We can have a home-court advantage basically.”
On the Vanderbilt loss spurring them on into the tournament …
“We’re not really worried about that loss anymore; we know we have something bigger on our minds now. We’re worried about this tournament and going in and playing our hardest and winning this.”
On what he learned from today …
“I think we played good today, we just missed some shots down the stretch. It wasn’t like we just played bad; we just missed a few shots that we normally make. Yeah it kind of did (surprise me) because we were in the same kind of situation that we have been in. Earlier in the year we hit those shots and today they just didn’t fall.”
On the teams they could play …
“We are taking every team serious; we’re not looking past anybody. We’re going to take it one game at a time and try to focus on that opponent.
#33 Kyle Wiltjer, F, Fr.
On if knowing that they have another game coming up takes away the sting from Sunday’s loss …
“We all hate to lose, but we just want to use it as a learning experience and get ready for these next couple games because they’re going to be big ones.”
On what they learn from Sunday’s loss to Vanderbilt …
“We need to watch film, see where we let up on defense, the balls we didn’t come up and just honing down defensively. I thought we did well on offense executing. We just didn’t make shots. Just watching film and seeing what we need to work on.”
On going through this grind for the first time …
“It’s definitely an eye-opening experience. Just the amount of time we put in shows the work ethic of our team. We all, every day, come in and we bring it. It’s definitely an experience and I’m getting used to it faster than I thought.”
On how big of an advantage it will be to play so close to home and have so many fans there …
“That shows how special BBN (Big Blue Nation) is. We were in the SEC Tournament and it was like a home game. I’m just honored to be a part of it and we’re looking forward to our first round game.”
On what it does for his confidence to be able to contribute the way he did today against Vanderbilt …
“It’s good for my confidence. I knew I could do it; it’s just going in there and utilizing my minutes. I never know when I’m going to go in, but when I go in I just want to make the most out of them. I just want to continue to get better each day in practice and help our team win.”
John Calipari was born on February 10th, 1959 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Calipari
February 10th, 1959
2 + 10 +1+9+5+9 = 36 = his life lesson = Managing. Having his work cut out for him.
February 10th, 1959
2 + 10 +2+0+1+2 = 17 = his personal year (from February 10th, 2012 to February 9th, 2013) = Inspired. Inspirational. Making miracles happen.
17 year + 3 (March) = 20 = his personal month (from March 10th, 2012 to April 9th, 2012) = Exercising sound judgement. Judge for yourself. You be the judge.
20 month + 2 (2nd of the month on Monday April 2nd, 2012) = 22 = his personal day = Lucky.
Darius Miller waas born on March 21st, 1990 according to http://www.ukathletics.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/miller_darius00.html
March 21st, 1990
3 + 21 +1+9+9+0 = 43 = his life lesson = Celebrating. Congratulations. Enjoying himself.
March 21st, 1990
3 + 21 +2+0+1+1 = 28 = his personal year (from March 21st, 2011 to March 20th, 2012) = Hero. Unstoppable.
28 year + 2 (February) = 30 = his personal month (from February 21st, 2012 to March 20th, 2012) = Having a lot to be thankful for.
March 21st, 1990
3 + 21 +2+0+1+2 = 29 = his personal year (from March 21st, 2012 to March 20th, 2013) = Talented. Teamwork.
29 year + 3 (March) = 32 = his personal month (from March 21st, 2012 to April 20th, 2012) = Winning. Victory. Top ten. NCAA Championship.
32 month + 2 (2nd of the month on Monday April 2nd, 2012) = 34 = his personal day = Generating a buzz. Things happen really quickly. Final buzzer.
comprehensive summary and list of predictions for 2012:
learn numerology from numerologist to the world, Ed Peterson: