2014 NCAA Tournament: Kentucky Basketball Has Come Too Far to Lose Now
To describe the Kentucky Wildcats‘ season as a roller coaster of highs and lows would be putting it lightly. The days of the preseason 40-0 talks made Lexington the place to be as many felt this freshmen-laden team would shape up to be one of the best in college basketball history. Ten losses later and the Wildcats found themselves with an eight-seed after starting the season as the top ranked team. But head coach John Calipari would be damned if he let a number next to their name in the NCAA tournament define who this team is and what they can accomplish.
After a relatively comfortable second-round win over nine-seeded Kansas State, undefeated Wichita State became the dead end that Kentucky would inevitably run into. Wichita State was too well-coached to fall to a group of inexperienced and youthful Wildcats. Kentucky just couldn’t find a way to make their overwhelming talent mesh in time, therefore, they wouldn’t be able to shock the Shockers. This all meant nothing to Calipari and the Wildcats. They played as such, and what many called the game of the year in college basketball proved Kentucky was ready for war after leaving their mark on Wichita State’s unblemished record in the final seconds.
The worst was now behind them as the Wildcats had a Sweet 16 birth that featured a date with their hated Rivals, the Louisville Cardinals in Indianapolis. From the tip, the Wildcats were manhandled and the feel-good story that was Kentucky basketball after their upset over Wichita State looked to be racing to its end. But once again, the resiliency that Calipari’s team lacked all season made an appearance for the second-straight game with Kentucky knocking Louisville off 74-69 in a nail-biter. The joy of overcoming the ever-so-many obstacles the Wildcats faced throughout the season was evident on the faces of Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison and the rest of the team and coaching staff.
Kentucky had made the Elite Eight after many felt this was a lost season and the expectations placed on them were far too high. The city of Lexington rioted and Calipari took a sigh of relief along with the rest of the Big Blue Nation. Next up for Kentucky is the Michigan Wolverines, which is a matchup that favors the bigger, more physical Wildcats. And of course, John Calipari will refuse to look ahead to the Final Four, but Kentucky must be salivating over the possibility of playing the significantly less talented Wisconsin Badgers. It seems to be a paved path to the national championship game for Kentucky, and considering the recent surge they are on, the Wildcats have come too far to lose now.