Kentucky just “staying in the moment” but gets no respect from CBSSports.com analyst

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By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky might be the highest seed remaining in the South Region, but CBSSports.com’s Matt Norlander totally disagrees.

He reseeded the tournament based on the 16 teams left in the field. He rated Villanova, Duke, Kansas and Purdue as the top four teams — and really nothing wrong with any of that. However, he has Kentucky 10th — and behind South Region semifinalists Nevada and Loyolay-Chicago.

The only teams he rated lower than Kentucky were Clemson, Texas A&M, Florida State, Kansas State and Syracuse. 

During his weekly radio show Monday night, Calipari was asked about Norlander’s rankings.

“I love it,” Calipari said. “Again, is that their hope or opinion? … I laugh about this stuff.” 

Kentucky plays No. 9 seed Kansas State at the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Atlanta. No. 7 Nevada versus No. 11 Loyola are in the other region semifinal. 

I might be wrong but I think Kentucky has won five straight games and nine of its last 10. The Cats’ 3-point defense has been superb in that streak. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has developed into one of the nation’s best guards. Kevin Knox has developed a deadly mid-range game. Wenyen Gabriel is playing the best he has during his two years at UK.

Calipari has Kentucky peaking and there’s just no way I think there are nine teams left in the Sweet Sixteen playing better than Kentucky.

But the “lack of respect” card is one Calipari and his players have embraced the last month and Norlander’s reseeding certainly should make for some interesting bulletin board reading in the Kentucky locker room.

In fairness, ESPN thinks a lot more of Kentucky’s chances than Norlander. ESPN also reseeded the tourney field and has UK fifth.

ESPN’s top four are Villanova, Duke, Clemson and West Virginia. The next four are Kentucky, Nevada, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Nine and 10 are Purdue and Kansas, two of Norlander’s top teams.

The final six are Syracuse, Gonzaga, Florida State, Loyolay-Chicago, Michigan and Kansas State.

“The only game I’m worried about is Kansas State and if they beat us, there’s zero percent chance of us advancing,” Calipari said. “We’re just staying in the moment.” 

In this wacky NCAA Tournament, that’s the best thing to do.

11 comments

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  1. I agree with Calipari. I love it. Pin that on the locker room wall. These so called experts have been wrong about a lot in this tournament.

  2. Calipari and the players must stay in the moment because one misstep and they go home. Survive and advance, one game at a time.

    Fans however don’t have to stay in the moment. I find it very interesting that the ESPN ranking has Gonzaga and Michigan so low given their #3 and #4 seeding levels. I believe UK will beat Kansas State, and will be favored over either Nevada or Loyola. The South region winner will play the west region winner, who will likely be either Gonzaga or Michigan. I suppose ESPN is projecting UK into the championship game.

    Wouldn’t that be something!!!!

  3. I like our chances to move beyond this weekend if we can keep the guys in focus and are able to count on some good PT from Vando if not start him over Richards. Richard’s 2 pts and 5-6 mins has not worked and still don’t understand why Cal continues to start him.

    1. He starts because he’s UK’s best rim protector.

      1. Welcome back King. Where have you been? I have missed your posts here. I am with Mike on this though. If Vanderbilt had not been injured, and had been healthy all season, I believe he would be a better rim protector around the paint because he brings more effort, fire, and desire to the game. Richards needs more time because he ain’t getting it done just yet. I do see a ton of potential in Richards. He is a great shooter when he gets the opportunity. If Vanderbilt is still not at least 95% ready he could be a liability too. I read somewhere that Vanderbilt said he was 70% or 71% ready. I don’t think Calipari will use him if that is where he is at physically.

  4. Mike give Richards credit I thought he did some good things against Buffalo. You gotta remember he didn’t start playing basketball until he was15 years old. In time this kid will be special before he leaves UK. I see a lot of upside in him.

    1. Cats79…..I wish I could be as patient as you seem to be. He actually played better at beginning of year and came in, I think, as a 4 or 5*. He has been thru probably over 100 practices surrounded by great athletes and still hasn’t improved. Most coaches start their best 5 players and Nick doesn’t meet that qualification. He has hands of stone and seems to play very soft. He may be a great kid but not very coachable.

  5. I read the column by Norlander. What an idiot. He actually cited Ken Pom as being the reason he rated UK so low. Hello – those ratings are based on the entire season. Look at the last month for a real understanding of where UK is. But CBS has a long tradition of bashing UK. They called Calipari the dirtiest coach in America and the most hated coach in America. They never bothered to change that view after the scandals at Louisville and North Carolina not to mention Arizona and several others. There’s no money in hating those teams I guess. Same thing with Smith getting fired at Memphis. I didn’t hear any crying about what a great family guy he was blah blah blah. In fact none of the places he’s been fired except UK have caused that reaction.

  6. Let the idiots at CBS talk that sh_t. If KY clamps down on defense Kansas State won’t break 50. The same approach goes for Nevada’s 4 guard lineup…they can shoot but will be bothered by UK’s height/length. Do this and they have an 80% chance of making the Final 4. I look for Texas A&M to be there too. I give the Cats a 50% chance of making the championship game. I think Villanova or Duke will make it there too. I give the Cats a 40% of winning the Title game, assuming they are in it. Go CATS!

  7. Richards needs to focus on what he can control. Our guards need to fight over the top of picks and let Nick stay attached to his man. Don’t try to block every shot, just focus on the ones that come right at him. Focus on boxing out on defense AND offense. Sure that means he doesn’t get a dozen shots, but that will get him a couple of dunks off lobs, a couple of putbacks on missed shots, and 3 or 4 trips to the foul line. He could easily get double doubles in the next 2 games without having any plays run specifically for him.

  8. Overall, I think our Wildcats have been playing some outstanding basketball. Sure they’ve had some lapses, but not to the detriment of losing a game.

    Coach Cal continues to tell the BBN that he won’t give up on Nick ( looking at you Hami), and we continually second guess his decision to start Nick. Now I understand the argument about starting/not starting Nick, and I also understand Coach Cal’s perspective. We are fine.

    Go Cats!!!

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