Kentucky draws tough East bracket in NCAA tourney
Huddled with his teammates around the television in coach John
Calipari’s living room, Kentucky freshman DeMarcus Cousins
demonstratively expressed his disapproval over the tough road the
SEC champions face to reach the Final Four.
“What?” said Cousins, throwing his arms in the air as some of
Kentucky’s potential opponents in the NCAA tournament’s East
Regional were announced Sunday.
The Wildcats (32-2) got the No. 1 seed on the strength of their
Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament
championships, but opposite them as the No. 2 seed in their region
is West Virginia, the Big East tournament champion.
After Ohio State was announced as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest,
opposite top-seeded Kansas, Calipari told his players: “We wanted
Along with seeing West Virginia in the same bracket, setting up
a potential regional final in Syracuse, N.Y., Calipari also
expressed surprise in some potential earlier matchups. Assuming
Kentucky gets past 16th-seeded East Tennessee State on Thursday,
the Wildcats draw a tough second-round game against Wake Forest or
Texas, which was at one time ranked No. 1.
“Our little corner of the world is hard,” Calipari
Kentucky’s players didn’t arrive for the beginning of the show
Sunday night, when they were officially named as a No. 1 seed along
with Kansas, Duke and Syracuse. The SEC championship game against
Mississippi State went into overtime, and the flight back from
Nashville was late.
Conference player of the year John Wall, a freshman considered a
likely top overall pick in the NBA draft, hit a late 3-pointer in
that game. He acknowledged it was a surprise to see the tourney
path, including a potential second-round matchup with the
“It was kind of shocking to see them that close up in our
bracket, but we’re not going to complain about it,” Wall said.
“We can’t look that far down the road. We’ve got to worry about
that first game.”
The Wildcats’ other freshman star in the backcourt, Eric
Bledsoe, said the road would be difficult not just because of
opponents but also due to the schedule. Kentucky played three
grueling days in the SEC tournament and now plays again on
“We’ve just got to try to get our bodies in shape, get proper
rest and eat right,” Bledsoe said. “Everybody’s body gets
bruised. We’ve been playing hard the last few days. We’re just
going to try to keep it going.”
Although there were some quibbles with the draw, the team’s
veteran – junior Patrick Patterson – said this edition of the
Wildcats far exceeded his expectations.
Patterson will be playing in his first NCAA tournament game
because he was injured two years ago as a freshman and Kentucky
went to the NIT last year under Billy Gillispie.
“I thought we’d have a successful team, but I thought we’d
probably have a couple bumps in the road,” Patterson said.
“Earlier in this season, I never would have imagined us at this
point we are now.”