Coach Cal and the Cats react to Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament draw
The Kentucky Wildcats will start their NCAA Tournament run Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla., and the road to another Final Four could go through the North Carolina Tar Heels.
UK was given the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region during Sunday’s tournament selection show, and the Cats will play Abilene Christian to start things off. That game is scheduled to tip off at 7:10 p.m. Thursday on CBS.
Abilene Christian (27-6) won the Southland Conference Tournament as a No. 2 seed in the league. This will be its first appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament. The Wildcats played in the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament last year and have played in several NCAA DII tournaments.
If Kentucky avoids upset in the first round, it will get the winner of No. 7 seed Wofford and No. 10 seed Seton Hall, which defeated the Wildcats in overtime back in December.
Winning two games would send UK to the regionals in Kansas City — to be played March 29 and 31 — and North Carolina could be there. The Tar Heels are the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region and would be UK’s most likely matchup in the Elite Eight.
Possible Sweet Sixteen opponents for UK would be No. 3 seed Houston, No. 6 seed Iowa State No. 11 seed Ohio State or No. 14 seed Georgia State. Kansas — a No. 4 seed — is in UNC’s half of the bracket, along with No. 5 seed Auburn.
The No. 1 seeds this year went to Duke (East), Virginia (South), UNC (Midwest) and Gonzaga (West), with the Blue Devils earning the No. 1 overall spot in the field after winning the ACC Tournament this weekend. Duke’s top competition in the East will be No. 2 seed Michigan State, the Big Ten champion.
A possible rematch of the season opener between Kentucky and Duke wouldn’t take place until the national title game in Minneapolis. If the Cats advance out the Midwest Region, they’d play the winner of the South Region, which is topped by Virginia, Tennessee, Purdue and Kansas State.
Louisville earned a No. 7 seed in the East Region in its first year under head coach Chris Mack, and the Cardinals will face No. 10 seed Minnesota — coached by Richard Pitino — in the first round in Des Moines at 12:15 p.m. Thursday on CBS. The winner of that game will most likely face Michigan State in the second round.
Murray State earned the No. 12 seed in the West Region and will play No. 5 seed Marquette in a first round game in Hartford, Conn., on Thursday at about 4:30 p.m. on TBS.
Northern Kentucky is the No. 14 seed in the West Region, and its first round opponent will be No. 3 seed Texas Tech in a game that will be played in Tulsa on Friday at 1:30 p.m. on TNT.