By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky fans thought the Cats had a great chance to be placed in the South Region, where the semifinals and final will be played in Louisville.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said he knew better.
“I mean I thought that there was a chance we play in Louisville. I thought it was slim, but it was none. None! Not happening, but that’s fine,” Calipari said Sunday after UK was placed in the Midwest Region as the No. 2 seed with North Carolina as the No. 1 seed.
Kentucky opens NCAA Tournament play Thursday in Jacksonville against Abilene Christian and would play the Wofford-Seton Hall winner Saturday if it advances.
“This thing has a lot of good teams. The teams in our little corner of the bracket, one (Seton Hall) beat us, the other team is the team you knew. Then, Abilene Christian I don’t know much about, but if they are in my guess is that they shoot 3s. Which means if they make 20, we lose in the first round,” Calipari said.
“I mean at this time of the year it’s one and done. Look, we’ve used the year to prepare these kids for this tournament and the stuff that we just went through (in a SEC Tournament semifinal loss to Tennessee) where you have your chances, a couple of things happen out of your control, a couple of things happen in your control. Then all of the sudden, you drop a game. What a great lesson going in.
“I remember 2012, we were up with four to five minutes to go, and then we let go of the rope and lost. That was the best thing that happened in 2012. So, we’ll see.”
Kentucky senior Reid Travis says the players didn’t have a preference about where they wanted to play.
“I think the coaches did a great job of just keeping us focused on what the main goal was these last couple of weeks down the stretch. Even today, looking at brackets, no one was really talking about it until our names got announced and we saw where we were going,” Travis said.
“I give credit to them for keeping our tunnel vision and just focus on that. Like I said, it’s out of our hands, so whether we wanted to play in a certain region or not, we really had no control over it.”
What about not getting to play in Louisville where UK would have had a huge fan following?
“It’s out of our hands. I mean it’s going to shake out the way it was going to shake out in the end. We have no control over that, but our fans travel where we’re going to be at,” Travis said. “So, excited to see how many people make it out for Thursday. Just excited to get out there. “