NASHVILLE — John Calipari admits he likes to “tease” and “tweak” the NCAA tournament committee, an activity that will probably do little to help Kentucky attain a preferable spot on this year’s bracket.
Following the Wildcats’ SEC tournament win over Georgia on Saturday, Calipari said the 10-person council likes to “give us a bad seed because I said this and this.”
There’s no telling what they might do to punish Kentucky and its coach this March.
“Our path, as you know, because you followed us every year, will be the hardest path of anybody in the NCAA tournament,” Calipari said. “Sometimes they stick the Lakers in there to get that going. Somebody told me they’re gonna put Louisville back in the tournament in our path. That’s how it is.”
Saturday was the second straight day Calipari campaigned for other SEC teams to make the tournament. In all, he mentioned five schools that should be in: Kentucky, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt.
ESPN “bracketologist” Joe Lunardi projects good news for the first three on that list, but thinks the Bulldogs and Commodores will be watching from home this year.
“They’ve got a tough job,” Calipari said of the committee. “Their job’s at stake. Literally, their family’s at stake … At the end of the day, there’s going to be some upset people. Just how it is.”
Here were some of his other thoughts after beating Georgia:
On the Bulldogs’ approach Saturday… “Mark Fox had an unbelievable gameplan of what they were going to do to beat us. He platooned. Think about what he did. He totally changed how they were going to play because he knew it was their third game in three days.”
On the game’s turning point… “The break that we had is when (Georgia guard) J.J. (Frazier) hurt his ankle. That was a big break for us, because we couldn’t guard him.”
On Charles Matthews… “I was happy for Charles. He’s been struggling, and I’m trying to get him to understand the best version of him is unbelievable defender, spring the court, slash for baskets, offensive rebound, rebound defensively, and fly. That’s the best version of him.”
On Skal Labissiere… “I only played him a few minutes, and he had some fouls and all that, but the reality of it is Skal is playing really well, and he’s been a difference maker for us … The guy that’s fresh tomorrow is going to be Skal.”
What’s next: Kentucky faces Texas A&M for the SEC tournament championship Sunday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN)