DES MOINES — Kentucky and Indiana took care of business Thursday to ensure their rivalry would be rekindled this weekend.
Basketball fans are already circling the tipoff time (Sat., 5:15 p.m. ET, CBS) on their calendars, but Wildcats coach John Calipari is a little upset that the matchup will take place in the Round of 32.
“It’s kind of unfortunate that this game is being played this early,” he said after blowing out Stony Brook at Wells Fargo Arena. “This should be another round or two later.”
Many analysts thought the Wildcats would receive a No. 2 or No. 3 seed from the tournament committee on Sunday, but a surprise draw set up Calipari’s No. 4-seeded squad to cross paths with No. 5-seeded Indiana.
Calipari said the Hoosiers — who dispatched Chattanooga Thursday evening — “are really, really good.”
Indiana (26-7) won the Big Ten regular season title without the help of second-leading scorer James Blackmon Jr., who underwent season-ending surgery on his right knee in January.
“My opinion: Tom Crean is the national coach of the year for what he did. It’s not that they won the league,” Calipari said. “One of his best players got hurt, out for the year, and he had to adjust how they play. What he’s done with that team in that league is incredible.”
Kentucky (27-8) finished as the SEC’s co-regular season champion and then won its second straight tournament trophy last weekend in Nashville.
The Wildcats and Hoosiers discontinued their annual rivalry in 2012, and have not played since an Elite 8 game that March.
“I didn’t want to play home and home,” Calipari said of the split. “I told ’em we’d play two years in Indianapolis if you want, I just didn’t want to play a home and home … And they didn’t want to do it, so that ended the series.”