LEXINGTON, Ky. — Following in annual tradition, Kentucky coach John Calipari wasn’t exactly pleased with Kentucky’s draw in the NCAA Tournament.
Calipari and his SEC Tournament champion Cats landed in Lexington on Sunday afternoon and arrived at the coach’s house after the bracket had already been revealed. Calipari, as he sat on a couch to talk to reporters, claimed he hadn’t seen the complete bracket, but that he’d heard the worst.
“I was just in the car and someone called me and said ‘You’re on murderer’s row again. They absolutely threw the hatchet at ya.'”
Kentucky (24-10) is the No. 5 seed in the South Region where it’ll meet No. 12 seed Davidson (21-11) on Thursday in Boise, Idaho. The murderer’s row Calipari heard about could start in the second round with a potential matchup against top NBA draft prospect DeAndre Ayton and his 4th-seeded Arizona Wildcats.
Davidson, the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic-10 Tournament, upset No. 1-seed Rhode Island on Sunday.
“They run good stuff,” Calipari said of Davidson. “Their coach and Rick Barnes are good friends, so a lot of stuff Tennessee runs, they run. I remember a game early in the year, they had 30 3-pointers made. So they’re a 3-point shooting team. But I have not watched them. I have not watched tape.”
Virginia, Cincinnati and Tennessee are the top three seeds in the South Region.
“Is ours like the toughest again?” Calipari asked. “Like, by far? Is anyone in here surprised? We’re not playing on Thursday, right? Because we just got done playing today. We’re playing on Thursday? Oh, but we’re close?” (Reporter then says they’re in Boise.) “Anchorage or Boise? It is what it is. They’re not going to make it easy for us, and they can all say, ‘This is all by the numbers and all that.’ OK.”
Kentucky fans were waiting for the team outside Calipari’s house. pic.twitter.com/PNiDJeavHZ
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) March 11, 2018
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart is on the NCAA Tournament selection committee, but he’s not in the room when Kentucky is being discussed.
“He was probably just as surprised as anybody when they said, ‘Here’s where we’re putting ’em,'” Calipari said.
The Wildcats won their fourth consecutive SEC Tournament championship on Sunday in St. Louis — a 77-72 win against Tennessee. Kentucky is 15th in RPI and 18th in KenPom. The Cats were 0-4 against RPI top-25 teams and 7-9 against the RPI top 50.
“Do you understand why I don’t think conference tournaments are worth anything other than our fans like to travel? It doesn’t help your seed,” Calipari said.
Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel and freshman guard Hamidou Diallo said they’ve never been to Idaho. Calipari said it’s a “great place.”
“I think it’s the home of potatoes,” Gabriel said.