During a break between games at this past weekend’s SEC tournament, Kentucky coach John Calipari flipped on the America East championship.
At the time, Stony Brook was down 15 points to Vermont in the second half.
Calipari noted the “buzzard luck” of Seawolves coach Steve Pikiell, who had lost four of the past five conference title games.
But, behind senior Jameel Warney’s career-high 43 points, Stony Brook rallied to win and earn it’s first ever NCAA tournament bid.
“I said, ‘Whew, I hope we don’t play them,’” Calipari told media Wednesday.
Naturally, the selection committee paired Kentucky and Stony Brook together for this week’s tournament.
“I did not know my room was bugged by the NCAA,” Calipari said. “When they heard that, they said, ‘That’s who they’re playing. We’ll work the field around them.’”
As previously reported, the No. 13-seeded Seawolves believe they can pull off the upset over No. 4-seeded Kentucky, and Calipari agrees.
“They can beat us,” Calipari said. “They can.”
There’s a basic factor working against the favorites.
“The first game’s the hardest,” he said. “Teams get better as you advance, but the first one is the hard one. Especially if you have guys like we do. We start three freshmen who have never played in an NCAA tournament game.”
With three seniors, Stony Brook has an edge in experience.
“We can lose the game,” Calipari said. “The thing about being at Kentucky: Every game we play is someone’s Super Bowl. Like, if we don’t play, we lose. Because the other team is gonna play out of their minds.”
Kentucky-Stony Brook tips off in Des Moines at 9:40 p.m. ET Thursday (CBS).