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John Calipari knew better than to look ahead

Hamidou Diallo (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Sometimes I wonder about things John Calipari says — like that his team could still make the Final Four after it suffered a fourth straight loss at Auburn in mid-February.

But guess what? The odds of it happening look a lot better now that UK has won the SEC Tournament, survived a tough first-round NCAA game and watched No. 4 seed Arizona and No. 1 seed Virginia in its regional bracket both go out in the second round.

Kentucky could still lose to Buffalo Saturday but what many were saying the toughest bracket in the country is not nearly as difficult on paper for UK now.

Plus, I learned my lesson in 2011 and 2014 with the improbable Final Four runs Kentucky had not to doubt Calipari.

That’s why I just wanted to remind you what he said Wednesday when a media member tried to get him to look ahead to a potential second round matchup with Arizona.

“When I tell these guys — and again, I’ve done this in this tournament, I don’t know, maybe 20 times, whatever it is, you can’t look ahead because a lot of times you look ahead and the team you’re worried about doesn’t even advance. And you spent three days, My god, we’re going to have to — they got beat. Who am I worried about now?” Calipari said.

“So I’d rather not move ahead and I’ll just stay with the game we’ve got at hand, which is going to be very difficult for us to win.”

The same could be said for today’s 5:15 p.m. EST game.

Buffalo lost only 73-67 to Cincinnati, the No. 2 seed in the South Region, in November. It lost to South Dakota State, and St. Bonaventure,  both NCAA teams.   It lost to Syracuse and Texas A&M, two more NCAA teams.

The Bulls had won six straight games before demolishing Arizona 89-68 Thursday.

“I’ve seen Buffalo play a little bit. I know they’re a really good team,” UK sophomore Wenyen Gabriel said Friday. “We watched some film on them, and know they’re a great team. We’ll have to come out really prepared to beat this team.”

He’s right. But somehow I just think Kentucky will. University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s upset of No. 1 Virginia — the first 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed — should help assure that just in case Buffalo’s rout of Arizona didn’t.

But I thought before the tournament started that UK would get back to Atlanta for the South Region semifinals and see no reason to change my mind about that today.

4 comments

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  1. Larry, this is right about looking ahead, but in my experience, UK has seldom been the beneficiary of higher seeds dropping out like this. That usually happens for other teams like Duke.

    Glad it is happening for the Cats this year.

  2. None of those upsets matter unless we take care of business with Buffalo. Those kids think they can beat us. We cannot get into a shooting contest with this bunch. Go inside on this team and get them in foul trouble and win this game!

  3. It’s going to be a good game but I expect that we will still win. My bed in Catlanta is waiting on me(sister live there). Just need my Cats to get me there. Our inside play should be the difference just like the last game, A good game from PJ seems in order and we need to post up Knox because he will be covered by a guard. I just wish this team could throw the alley oop better. It would be a dunk fest if they could. Cats by 7 see you in Catlanta!

  4. I’m not counting chickens yet.

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