UK Men's Basketball

Fear of the unknown: Meet the unfamiliar faces in Kentucky’s South Region

Caleb Martin (10) and his twin brother, Cody, both score in double figures for Nevada, which beat Texas and Cincinnati to get to Atlanta.
Caleb Martin (10) and his twin brother, Cody, both score in double figures for Nevada, which beat Texas and Cincinnati to get to Atlanta. AP

The University of Kentucky is making its 57th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this season. The Wildcats have played in 176 tournament games, won 126 of them, advanced to 17 Final Fours and won eight national championships.

The point is, anyone who knows college basketball knows about Kentucky.

The same cannot be said for the three schools that will accompany the Wildcats at the South Region in Atlanta’s Philips Arena this week.

Kentucky’s Thursday night opponent, Kansas State, boasts a rich history of regular-season success but has largely fizzled in the Big Dance. The Wildcats have made one appearance in an NCAA championship game — and lost to Kentucky in 1951.

Loyola Chicago won a national championship in 1963 but has been largely vacant from the national scene ever since. Nevada is making its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2004 and only its second ever.

Here’s a closer look at the three unfamiliar faces in the South Region, ahead of tip-off on Thursday night:

Kansas State

Location: Manhattan, Kan.

Enrollment: 22,795

Nickname: Wildcats

School colors: Purple and white

Conference: Big 12

All-time record: 1,634-1,146

Previous Sweet 16 appearances: 17

Program’s one shining moment: Kansas State’s deepest run in the NCAA Tournament was the 1951 championship game held in Minneapolis where it faced Kentucky and lost 68-58. Kansas State led that game 29-27 at the half. In all, Kansas State has made four Final Fours in 30 NCAA Tournament appearances, the last NCAA regional title coming in 1964.

2017-18 record: 24-11

Head coach: Bruce Weber (124-79 in six seasons at Kansas State, and 437-234 in 20 seasons overall)

2018 NCAA berth: At-large (Kansas State finished fourth in the Big 12). No. 9 seed in South Region.

How it got to Atlanta: Beat No. 8 seed Creighton 69-59 and No. 16 seed UMBC 50-43 at Charlotte, N.C.

All-time series with UK: Kentucky leads 9-0 (UK won last meeting 56-49 on March 21, 2014, in the round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament at St. Louis)

Common opponents with Kentucky this season: Kansas, Georgia, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. Kansas State lost to Kansas three times (73-72 at home, 70-56 at Kansas and 83-67 in the Big 12 Tournament); Kansas State defeated Georgia 56-51 at home and Vanderbilt 84-79 on the road. Kansas State was swept by the Mountaineers (77-69 at home and 89-51 in Morgantown).

Other notable games this season: Kansas State defeated a then-No. 4 ranked Oklahoma 87-69 on Jan. 16 and followed it up with a win over No. 24 TCU, 73-68, on Jan. 20.

Top players: Dean Wade (16.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Barry Brown Jr. (16.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.3 apg), Xavier Sneed (10.7 ppg, 4.9 rgp), Cartier Diarra (7.1 ppg, 40.5 3FG pct.) and Kamau Stokes (9.0 ppg, 3.4 apg).

Loyola Chicago

Clayton Custer, right, is Loyola’s leading scorer at 13.3 points per game. He has made 46 percent of his three-point attempts this season. Tony Gutierrez AP

Location: Chicago

Enrollment: 16,422

Nickname: Ramblers

School colors: Maroon and gold

Conference: Missouri Valley

All-time record: 1,319-1,151

Previous Sweet 16 appearances: Three

Program’s one shining moment: Won the 1963 NCAA Tournament championship with a 60-58 win over Cincinnati at Freedom Hall in Louisville.

2017-18 record: 30-5

Head coach: Porter Moser (119-110 in seven seasons at Loyola and 224-211 overall)

2018 NCAA berth: Automatic (Loyola won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament). No. 11 seed in South Region.

How it got to Atlanta: Beat No. 6 seed Miami 64-62 and No. 3 seed Tennessee 63-62 at Dallas.

All-time series with UK: Kentucky leads 4-3 (UK lost last meeting 100-91 on March 14, 1964, in NCAA Tournament consolation game in Minneapolis).

Common opponents with Kentucky this season: Illinois-Chicago, Florida and Tennessee. Loyola defeated Illinois Chicago 85-61 at home on Dec. 2 and upset then No. 5 Florida in Gainesville 65-59 on Dec. 6. Loyola knocked No. 3 seed Tennessee out of the NCAA Tournament 63-61 at Dallas.

Other notable games this season: Loyola has only two losses in the last three months, a home loss to Indiana State on Jan. 3 and a road loss to Bradley on Jan. 31 as it rolled through its Missouri Valley Conference schedule and tournament.

Top players: Clayton Custer (13.3 ppg, 46 3FG pct.), Donte Ingram (11.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Aundre Jackson (11.1 ppg), Marques Townes (11 ppg) and Cameron Krutwig (10.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg).


Caleb Martin (10) and his twin brother, Cody, both score in double figures for Nevada, which beat Texas and Cincinnati to get to Atlanta. Mark Humphrey AP

Location: Reno, Nev.

Enrollment: 21,353

Nickname: Wolf Pack

School colors: Navy blue and silver

Conference: Mountain West

All-time record: 1,313-1,176

Previous Sweet 16 appearances: One.

Program’s one shining moment: The Pack’s first Sweet 16 appearance came in 2004 when Nevada defeated Michigan State 72-66 and Gonzaga 91-72 at Seattle. Nevada then fell to Georgia Tech 72-67 in St. Louis. It has overcome double-digit deficits in each of its games in this tournament.

2017-18 record: 29-7

Head coach: Eric Musselman (81-28 in three seasons at Nevada and overall)

2018 NCAA berth: At-large (Nevada finished first in the Mountain West standings, but lost to San Diego State in its conference tournament). No. 7 seed in South Region.

How it got to Atlanta: Beat No. 10 seed Texas 87-83 and No. 2 seed Cincinnati 75-73 at Nashville.

All-time series with UK: Kentucky has never played Nevada.

Common opponents with Kentucky this season: Davidson. Nevada beat Davidson 81-68 in Reno on Nov. 21.

Other notable games this season: Nevada went 4-4 during the regular season against teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament with wins over Rhode Island, Davidson, Radford and San Diego State and losses to SDSU twice, Texas Tech and TCU.

Top players: Caleb Martin (18.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg), Jordan Caroline (17.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.3 apg), Cody Martin (13.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.7 apg), Hallice Cooke (4.8 ppg) and Kendall Stephens (13.4 ppg).

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