Selection Sunday a disappointment for UK, Calipari

By Hayes Gardner

[email protected]

After winning its last six games and the Southeastern Conference tournament, the UK men’s basketball team was excited to hear which seed it would be receiving in the NCAA basketball tournament. The team was less excited after Sunday’s Selection Show.

Head coach John Calipari and his players gathered Sunday at Calipari’s home to watch the Selection Show, though they were late getting into town due to travel from the SEC tournament in Atlanta, Ga., and missed the beginning of the show.

Many predicted the Cats to be a No. 3 seed after being crowned SEC champions, but the selection committee had other ideas, placing the team as the No. 4 seed in the East Region.

Calipari was disappointed with the committee’s decision, but stayed positive.

“I’m a little bit surprised, to be honest with you,” Calipari said. “But at the end of the day, we’re in the tournament. We’re gonna have to win games.”

Senior forward Josh Harrellson maintained a similar opinion.

“We’re not happy about it, but we’ll just come out and keep playing basketball,” Harrellson said.

Calipari, like many fans, noted UK’s RPI (9th in the nation), but that was not enough to get the Cats the seed they had hoped for.

Calipari said it’s useless to debate the seeds the committee assigns, and it’s best to simply move forward.

“I don’t think they’ll change (UK’s seeding), do you think they’ll change it?”

To add insult to injury for the Cats, the Florida Gators, who UK defeated Sunday in the SEC championship, as well as on February 26, received the two seed in the Southeast region. When Florida was announced as a two seed, Calipari shook his head and left the room.

UK will face Ivy League champion Princeton in the first round and though Princeton is a 13 seed, Calipari is not overlooking it.

“Princeton’s gonna be good,” he said. “They’re a team that is able to do their thing. They run a great offense.”

The Cats could also potentially face West Virginia, the team that defeated them in the Elite Eight last year, in the second round of this year’s tournament.

“We have a little grudge with them,” Harrellson said. “… hopefully we can have a different result this time.”

If UK were to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, it would likely play the No. 1 overall seed Ohio State.

“The first game will be hard, the second game will be really hard and the third game will be impossible,” Calipari said.

But the team is ready for the tournament.

“I’m gonna take everything I have in my body and leave it on the court,” Harrellson said.

Freshman Doron Lamb said, “We’re playing great right now, so I have a lot of confidence going into the tournament.”

SEC Tournament MVP Darius Miller added, “We feel like we can play with anyone right now.”

UK will play Thursday March 17 against Princeton in Tampa, Fla.