The Kentucky Wildcats want to be remembered. And a perfect, 34-0 regular season and conference tournament run simply will not do.
Over the next several weeks, the Wildcats will be seeking to do something no team has done in nearly 40 years. Ticket prices will be at an average of $181.54 with a get-in price of $69 when Kentucky opens Midwest Region NCAA play on Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky against the winner of the Manhattan vs. Hampton. As if the Wildcats needed any other advantages going for them, no No. 1 seed has ever lost to a No. 16 seed in tournament history.
Don’t try convincing Kentucky coach John Calipari of resting his laurels based on such distinction. “Everyone is 0-0 right now,” he told ESPN. “This is a one-game shot. All I want for my team right now is individually to be the best version of yourself.”
Even in Vegas, the Wildcats are an even money bet to make history. “I think I have the best team and the best players,” Calipari finally conceded. “Does that mean we’ll win? No, it doesn’t.”
But if the Cats come anywhere close to resembling the team they’ve been all season, many wonder how can they lose?
Led by sophomore guard Aaron Harrison (12 points, two rebounds and two assists), the Cats’ boast six players averaging at least eight points. Across the frontline, Karl Anthony-Towns averages 10 points and seven rebounds and Willie Cauley-Stein chips in with nine points and six boards.
On the perimeter, Devin Booker (11 points), Andrew Harrison (nine points, four assists) and Trey Lyles (eight points, five rebounds) are all consistent contributors.
The Cats capped their 34-0 regular season by downing Arkansas 78-63 in the SEC championship game, assuring themselves of at least having the chance of becoming the first team to run the table since Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers in 1976. To follow the Wildcats historic run, use Hipmunk.com to reach any tournament location. For the second and third round location in Louisville, Hipmunk offers Louisville flights and has hotels in Louisville from $64 that will have you walking distance from the KFC Yum! Center.
Kentucky enters play as the tournament’s No.1 overall seed, joining Wisconsin, Villanova and Duke as the other regions top seeds. The Wildcats toughest Midwest challengers figure to come from a pool of Kansas, Maryland and Notre Dame.