John Calipari on road to Final Four: ‘Forget the seeds’

By David Kenyon
Courtesy of USA Today Images

The South Region in the 2018 men’s NCAA tournament has been loaded with upsets, but Kentucky coach John Calipari isn’t about to give his competition any bulletin-board material.

Although the Wildcats are the No. 5 team in the region, they’re the highest remaining seed because of four major upsets. Still, Calipari wants to ensure nobody thinks that means UK has an easy path to the Final Four.

Virginia lost in historic fashion, becoming the first No. 1 in the men’s tournament to ever lose in the first round against a No. 16 when UMBC rolled the Cavaliers. Fourth-seeded Arizona fell to Buffalo in the opening round, and both No. 2 Cincinnati and No. 3 Tennessee bowed out in the second game.

That leaves Calipari’s team as the obvious favorite over No. 9 Kansas State — Kentucky’s matchup in the Sweet 16 — as well as No. 7 Nevada and No. 11 Loyola-Chicago. And if Jarred Vanderbilt is healthy enough to return, the freshmen-led ‘Cats will get a timely boost to the frontcourt.

Should Kentucky reach the Final Four, history will remember 2018 offered a fortuitous path to the respected program. But as the actual tournament has taught us, no success should be taken for granted.