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Wildcats assigned No. 4 seed in East Region, could face Indiana in second-round showdown


By Glenn Osborne
KyForward sports editor

Despite sharing the Southeastern Conference regular season championship with Texas A&M, then knocking off the Aggies in the finals of the conference tournament Sunday, Kentucky received a No.4 seed in the East Region for this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and will have to travel west to Iowa for first-round play.

The Wildcats will take on Stony Brook in the first round on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. North Carolina is the region’s top seed and would await the Wildcats in the round of 16 in Philadelphia. Kentucky’s potential second-round opponent would be Indiana.

Kentucky will play the late game Thursday night on CBS.

Despite its loss to Kentucky, Texas A&M was actually seeded higher, No. 3 in the West Region. The Aggies could face Texas in second-round action. A&M will meet Green Bay of the Horizon League in a first-round game.

Tyler Ulis was named MVP of the SEC Tournament after scoring a career-high 30 points against Texas A&M (UK Athletics Photo)

Tyler Ulis was named MVP of the SEC Tournament after scoring a career-high 30 points against Texas A&M (UK Athletics Photo)

North Carolina was joined as top seeds by Kansas in the South, Oregon in the West and Virginia in the Midwest.

Early speculation had Kentucky in the South Region as a three seed, where it could have played third and fourth round games in Louisville’s Yum Center. With the Cardinals out of post-season play, business leaders in Louisville were undoubtedly hoping to get the Wildcats and Hoosiers, the regular season Big 10 champions, in their city.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Bracket

Indiana (25-7) would have to get past a Chattanooga team that won 29 of 34 games to reach a matchup with John Calipari’s Wildcats.

Chattanooga won the Southern Conference.

Kentucky (26-8) will take on Stony Brook (26-6) of the American East Conference. It’s the first NCAA tournament appearance for the Seawolves.

The other top seeds in the East Region are No. 2 Xavier and No. 3 West Virginia. Notre Dame, Michigan and Wisconsin are all in a loaded East Region. Kentucky lost to Wisconsin in the National Semifinals a year ago, spoiling its bid for an undefeated championship. It was the Cats’ only loss in 39 games.

No. 1 seed Virginia, which will open with Hampton, was joined in the Midwest Region by No. 2 Michigan State, in the Big Dance for the 19th year in a row, No. 3 Utah and No. 4 Iowa State

Texas Tech and coach Tubby Smith is also in the Midwest Region, along with Butler, Gonzaga, Purdue and Seton Hall, which knocked Villanova out of the Big East Conference Tournament.

Ticket Information

Joining Oregon and Texas A&M as top seeds in the West Region are No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 4 Duke.

Gonzaga features former UK player Kyle Wiltjer.

Calipari told reporters gathered at his home Sunday to view the marathon selection show that his team would practice in Lexington Monday and Tuesday before leaving for Iowa on Tuesday evening.

After the pairings were announced, Calipari appeared on ESPN, expressing his displeasure with the tournament committee’s decisions.

“A&M got a three seed. Did we not play a basketball game today?,” Calipari said. “I’m happy for A&M. They got a three seed. I said ‘what in the world, are we going to get a three or a two?’ I surprised we didn’t get a five. I always say this: if you miss-seed a team it’s not that team you hurt. It’ the teams they play. Ask Wichita State. There’s no reason they should have played us in the second round (in 2014). They were 31-0 and the No. 1 team.”

Calipari said he was unsure what criteria the committee used to make its decision.

“It’s a moving target. They’re not stealing my joy,” Calipari said. “We just won a championship. We’ll go to Des Moines. I wouldn’t have minded to go to Anchorage. I thought they’d try to send us to Anchorage. It would have been unbelievable up there. It would have been fun.”

Calipari said the SEC should consider moving its tournament championship to Saturday rather than Sunday.

“My team is playing as well as it has played,” Calipari said. “It doesn’t matter who you put us against. At the end of the day, you have to play the game. We’ve never had it easy and I don’t want it easy. Let’s play this thing.”

Kentucky, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt were the only SEC teams to make the 68-school field. Vandy meets Wichita State in a play-in game Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, with the winner set to meet Arizona.

“I think they’re going to the Final Four,” ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said. “They’ll beat Indiana in the second round. Too much Calipari. He’s unbelievable in a post-season.”

Kentucky will meet Xavier in the East Regional finals, Vitale predicted. Kentucky has been in four of the last five Final Fours, winning the title in 2012.


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