MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The SEC has three teams in the Elite Eight and Kentucky coach John Calipari couldn’t help but joke about the league’s perception prior to the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re supposed to be a bad league,” Calipari said after Kentucky’s 86-75 win against UCLA. “That’s got to be all these other leagues, right?”
And when Calipari took the podium, the wild Florida win over Wisconsin was not yet complete.
Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida will all play in the Elite Eight on Sunday. Kentucky will face North Carolina in Memphis at 5:05 p.m. ET. Florida and South Carolina will meet in New York at 2:20 p.m. ET.
“People are gonna say what they say, but I knew we had a good conference when I got here,” Kentucky freshman Malik Monk said. “Everybody fights. They say it’s a football conference, but basketball, too.”
De’Aaron Fox, who scored a freshman NCAA Tournament record 39 points against UCLA, didn’t sound surprised at the SEC’s success.
“Florida blew us out at their place,” Fox said. “We found out then that they were a good team, and South Carolina was ranked when we played them. And I mean, right now, they’re just showing them how strong our conference is. Three teams in the Elite 8, man, that’s tough to do. That’s almost 50 percent of the field.”