It looks like Kentucky could have one of its stars back for the Sweet 16 matchup against Kansas State on Thursday. Head coach John Calipari took to Twitter to deliver the good news, as well as send a strong message regarding the rest of the teams left in the South Region.
Forget the seeds. Everybody is 0-0 that’s moving forward and it’s not about seeding; it’s about who is playing the best. We are in a tough region. I’m looking forward to seeing @JVando today to see how far he’s come along.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 19, 2018
The return of Jarred Vanderbilt is excellent news. We’re still not sure how close to 100 percent he’ll be, but Calipari did say this about the 6-9, 214-pound freshman phenom last Wednesday:
“Right now, I just don’t think it’s in his interests or ours — unless he’s 100 percent — I would take 97 percent, 95, but you can’t take 80.”
The other key piece of information in Calipari’s tweet was the respect he showed for the other remaining teams in the South Region.
He probably felt the need to address it as a result of people assuming the remaining road to the Final Four will be easy. It was suppose to be one of the more difficult regions in the NCAA Tournament. Teams such as No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 4 seed Arizona were actually popular picks to make a run to the Final Four.
It hasn’t exactly worked out that way.
In fact, the Wildcats, who are a No. 5 seed, are now the top seed left in that region. Virginia, Arizona, Cincinnati (No. 2) and Tennessee (No. 3) have all been eliminated.
That’s why some people believe the Wildcats have lucked their way into a fifth Final Four appearance under Calipari. Yes, the path has been somewhat cleared, but don’t let Calipari hear you say that it’s a cakewalk.
Considering the remaining teams — Nevada (No. 7), Kansas State (No. 9) and Loyola-Chicago (No. 11) — were the ones who were able to knock off those heavy hitting top seeds, Calipari has a good point. No team should be taken lightly.
With that said, there’s no doubt that the Wildcats are thrilled with their draw considering where they started. They just need to play like they did against No. 13 seed Buffalo (20-point victory) instead of the way they played against No. 12 Davidson (5-point victory).