By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky might be the highest seed remaining in the South Region, but CBSSports.com’s Matt Norlander totally disagrees.
He reseeded the tournament based on the 16 teams left in the field. He rated Villanova, Duke, Kansas and Purdue as the top four teams — and really nothing wrong with any of that. However, he has Kentucky 10th — and behind South Region semifinalists Nevada and Loyolay-Chicago.
The only teams he rated lower than Kentucky were Clemson, Texas A&M, Florida State, Kansas State and Syracuse.
During his weekly radio show Monday night, Calipari was asked about Norlander’s rankings.
“I love it,” Calipari said. “Again, is that their hope or opinion? … I laugh about this stuff.”
Kentucky plays No. 9 seed Kansas State at the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Atlanta. No. 7 Nevada versus No. 11 Loyola are in the other region semifinal.
I might be wrong but I think Kentucky has won five straight games and nine of its last 10. The Cats’ 3-point defense has been superb in that streak. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has developed into one of the nation’s best guards. Kevin Knox has developed a deadly mid-range game. Wenyen Gabriel is playing the best he has during his two years at UK.
Calipari has Kentucky peaking and there’s just no way I think there are nine teams left in the Sweet Sixteen playing better than Kentucky.
But the “lack of respect” card is one Calipari and his players have embraced the last month and Norlander’s reseeding certainly should make for some interesting bulletin board reading in the Kentucky locker room.
In fairness, ESPN thinks a lot more of Kentucky’s chances than Norlander. ESPN also reseeded the tourney field and has UK fifth.
ESPN’s top four are Villanova, Duke, Clemson and West Virginia. The next four are Kentucky, Nevada, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Nine and 10 are Purdue and Kansas, two of Norlander’s top teams.
The final six are Syracuse, Gonzaga, Florida State, Loyolay-Chicago, Michigan and Kansas State.
“The only game I’m worried about is Kansas State and if they beat us, there’s zero percent chance of us advancing,” Calipari said. “We’re just staying in the moment.”
In this wacky NCAA Tournament, that’s the best thing to do.