I don’t think it’s any insult to the players or coaches to say the last couple weeks of UK results have been surprising. The loss at Florida at the end of the year did not give fans much confidence in what the SEC and NCAA Tournaments would possibly result in. But the last 2 weeks have truly been a joy to watch, even with the loss to Florida in Atlanta thrown in there. This team is finally playing up to it’s potential and now, all of the sudden, a Final Four is not out of the realm of possibility. But following the win over Wichita State yesterday, I saw a sentiment repeated several times on social media that “everything from here on out is bonus”. That’s essentially because this team has “overachieved” from where we thought they could go 2 weeks ago – any more success would just be bonus. The word used often is gravy.
Others I am sure would argue that now that this team is playing at a much higher level, the expectations have changed. That losing to a UL team you’ve already beaten and who didn’t exactly look like world beaters in their first 2 games would be a disappointment. And the fact it is Louisville we will be playing only adds to this feeling. Some fans would argue whether Kentucky is a 5 point underdog or a 55 point underdog, losing to Louisville is never OK. I’d like to think if Kentucky was playing Arizona in the Sweet 16 that fans would be more willing to look at the big picture and consider this run a success even with a loss. But if the Cardinals are the team that ends your season, it will be a sour taste.
Personally, I think now that we have seen just how good this team can be, the expectations have to change. And with those changing expectations come the belief that losing to Louisville will not be OK. Doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what the last 2-3 weeks will mean. It just means this team will have left some wins on the table. I mostly don’t want to lose to Louisville because it basically eliminates the win from earlier in the season AND takes away a little bit of the joy of beating them in the 2012 Final Four. That being said, if the Harrisons play like they have been, I see no reason the Cats will not win on Friday night.
So, what about you? Has the bar changed for this team or is anything that happens from here on out just bonus from where this team finished the regular season?