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10 Things to Know about Kentucky’s run in the South Region


Late Friday night, Kentucky will begin its quest for its ninth national championship, and while, as a diehard fan, you’ve probably already broken down the bracket every way you know how, I spent my afternoon charting out this Cats’ path to the Final Four and am ready to share my thoughts. Sure, Kentucky’s draw isn’t ideal, but upon further examination, it could be a lot worse.

Let’s jump right into my take on the South Region, starting with a St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail and a look at the bracket:


1. This is a really fun region

Just look at the different coaches we’ve got in this bracket: John Calipari, Roy Williams, Steve Alford, Gregg Marshall, Archie Miller, Mick Cronin. Heck, even little Richard Pitino is in there, along with one of the trendiest coaches in college basketball right now, Middle Tennessee State’s Kermit Davis. Add in Malik Monk, Lonzo Ball, and Justin Jackson and you’ve got some major star power in the South.

2. America will root for Wichita State if they play Kentucky

This Wichita State team isn’t nearly as good as the squad that Kentucky upset in St. Louis back in 2014, but if they make it past Dayton (no small feat) and Kentucky beats Northern Kentucky, get ready for all of America (outside of the Commonwealth) to get on the Shockers’ bandwagon. Not only are they playing big, bad Kentucky, there’s the whole “revenge” factor for the 2014 upset, which is especially easy to rally around when you consider their mascot looks like this:

I mean, who doesn’t love a shock of wheat with a face on it? That thing is so weird it’s lovable.

3. Wichita State/Kentucky would also be the Mychal Mulder Bowl

As our own Drew Franklin outlined for you a few weeks back, the plan was for Mychal Mulder to go to Wichita State. Gregg Marshall started recruiting Mulder at Vincennes University before anyone and Mulder would have signed with the Shockers if not for a rule from his coach prohibiting players from signing with schools in the fall of their sophomore year. So, Mulder had to wait until the spring, and by that time, he had a new suitor named John Calipari. Game over.

So, keep that story in mind should the Shockers and the Cats make it to the second round; you know Mychal will.

4. Middle Tennessee State will beat Minnesota (and maybe Butler)

Looking for a 5/12 upset? Look no further than 12-seed MTSU, which is led by the aforementioned new star on the block, Kermit Davis, who may end up filling one of the coaching vacancies in the SEC if the Blue Raiders make a run. MTSU pulled off one of the biggest upsets of last year’s tournament by knocking off 2-seed Michigan State and haven’t let up this season, rolling to a 30-4 record, which includes wins over Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Need more reasons to root for them? Their star player’s name is Giddy Potts and they’re playing Richard Pitino’s team. Go Blue Raiders.

5. I’m going to eat more than one St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail

Why did I want Indianapolis for Kentucky’s opening rounds? You’re looking at it: the famous St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail. The spicy treat has been known to set mouths on fire, and even if I have to sit at the bar by myself, I’m going all in.

6. Indy will be insane

Kentucky and Louisville may not be in the same region, but they’re both playing their opening round games in Indianapolis, which will make Naptown a bizarre battleground with no actual battle. It’s not like the two teams are playing each other, but given what happened the last time the two teams were in Indy, that probably won’t do much to squelch the hostility.

7. I feel better about the potential Sweet 16 UCLA rematch that I probably should

Yes, UCLA beat Kentucky in Rupp, but remember how weird that game was? It was early in the afternoon, Kentucky didn’t play a lick of defense and just seemed…off. The Cats had no energy, in part because the player that often brings the most energy to the team, Isaiah Briscoe, had no energy, which he went to Calipari’s office to apologize for afterwards. Back in December, Willis and Hawkins weren’t contributing at the same level they are now, specifically Willis on the boards. Willis has turned into one of Kentucky’s most reliable rebounders, a sentence I never thought I’d type. With Willis helping to contain TJ Leaf, Briscoe engaged, and a little bit of vengeance coursing through their veins, I like Kentucky’s chances vs. the Bruins.

8. We’d have to get LaVar Ball on the show

Lonzo Ball’s outspoken dad is everywhere these days, so would he come on KSR to talk about his son should the Cats and the Bruins meet again? As Ryan Lemond said loudly enough for all of Jeff Ruby’s to hear on Saturday night, DOES A FAT BABY FART? I’d love to hear LaVar and Matt go back and forth, especially since LaVar said today that he would have killed Michael Jordan one-on-one back in his day. Ha!

9. If Kentucky makes it, Calipari’s return to Memphis will be a story

If the Cats make it to the Sweet 16, it would be Kentucky’s first time playing in Memphis since John Calipari left the Tigers to come to Lexington in 2009. As you may remember, that was not the easiest of breakups for Memphis fans, most of which still hold a grudge for Cal. I know Cal’s gone back to the city of on his own since 2009, but this could make for an interesting storyline. We may even have to make a field trip to the Memphis basketball offices to visit The Door and do a podcast with Les Smith, the beloved reporter who helped us keep watch:

10. Bring on UNC

Yeah, we may have preferred Gonzaga, but I’ll take another game vs. North Carolina if it’s even half as entertaining as the first. Obviously, Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox were great vs. the Tar Heels in December, but as I just said about the UCLA rematch, Kentucky is a different team now. Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins combined for only three points and three rebounds vs. the Heels in Vegas, while Wenyen Gabriel had four points. That questionable four spot that haunted Kentucky early on and during the conference stretch doesn’t seem so questionable now.

Plus, is everyone forgetting that UNC scored only 43 points vs. Virginia only two weeks ago and lost to Duke by 10 on Friday? The Tar Heels are talented and they do have experience, but if Kentucky makes it to the Elite Eight, they’ll be rolling on a wave of momentum that could be hard to stop. Count me in for another classic. Also count me in for ribs at Rendezvous and breakfast at Brother Juniper’s.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

26 Comments for 10 Things to Know about Kentucky’s run in the South Region

  1. WeareBBN
    9:21 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

    UNC should be the only scary team. You bring u the UVA and dUKe games but to me that is why I am more afraid of them now. They have been playing very good teams since we last played them, we have played garbage teams in the SEC. that has to have made them better, more prepared for these tourney battles. Still think the SEC will hurt us, sure it gave us a pretty record but dig deep and you see it does not help us. Wichita St has a great record, go look at who they beat as the best win is Vandy. Of all their wins maybe 2 or 3 have meaning, kind of like us. SEC is better than their conference and we have more talent so I feel good we get to Memphis. UCLA plays no D, was 3rd in their crap conference that basically sent 3 teams to the dance. The top 3 are good teams but they have not played well down the stretch either. UNC should be only thing in the way of the Final 4, thank goodness college basketball is so mediocre right now.

    • syrin23
      12:00 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      UNC beats team by out rebounding them. They haven’t improved much. As Tyler said, they scored 43 points against Virginia and got whacked by Duke. We have improved by leaps and bounds since we played them although rebounding is still one of our weaknesses.

    • WeareBBN
      10:15 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      How do we know we have improved by leaps and bounds. You do know we struggled to beat average teams like Bama, Vandy, UGA, LSU and heck we beat Mizzou by 10. Our winning streak is vs little competition and we struggled to win alot of them, but at least we did win them. As we are beating the mentioned bad to average teams UNC was playing dUKe {3 times}, Loserville, UVA {twice}, ND and Miami. Who do you think got better, sure we had all wins but you get better playing tougher opponents, The SEC does not give us that chance, not our fault but it hurts us.

    • Eazy
      11:16 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      UK has 10 top 50 wins and more than 2-3 wins that have meaning. Lol. Vandy twice, Arkansas twice, SC and UF. Beating GA three times isn’t easy either. Also, UNC and Michigan State. Wichita doesn’t even come close to our wins against the top 50.

    • Eazy
      11:28 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      Wichita does have 1 top 50 win! SEC isn’t that bad. 5 teams in. Better than the PAC 12. I think it’s better than the Big 10 too. SEC went 8-7 vs the vastly overrated Big 12 this year. ACC is the best but the SEC has the second most titles since the 90s so we generally perform well in March.

  2. UKMallard86
    9:25 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

    I lived in Memphis for a few years… Don’t go to Rendezvous for ribs. It’s the famous touristy place but look up the BBQ Shop. Their’s are way better.

    • Mrs. Tyler Thompson
      9:47 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

      👍 Good to know, thanks!

    • Game Changer
      11:10 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

      Central is the best!!

    • evilcarl
      11:41 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

      Wow. Original hot take. I like Rendezvous. Best ribs I had in Memphis. Had friends in Memphis and visited about a dozen times a year for a decade. Hell my friends were even on a Memphis in May championship BBQ team. They admitted they liked their ribs and tried to match them on the circuit but they just didn’t like the crowds and I understood that. I was the tourist. I ate BBQ all over the city in well known places and dives. Market Street was good, Corky’s was the most overrated, and none were as good as the dry rub ribs at Rendezvous. But my friends also only wanted to go to a dive bar, in the truest sense, using me as an excuse, because they could serve themselves cheap canned beer, their woman would never want to go for sanitary reasons, and play Golden Tee on a 6 year old machine for free.

    • Blue Jesus
      1:26 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      I live in Memphis now and I say you can’t go wrong with Rendezvous, Central, or BBQ Shop.

      Maybe my favorite place in town had an electrical fire a few months back, but it’s reopening THIS WEEK–if the Cats make it to Memphis, I can’t recommend Elwood’s Shack enough! Get the fish tacos, the bbq pizza, or the brisket!

    • ClutchCargo
      10:21 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      Central FTW!

    • UKMallard86
      2:14 pm March 14, 2017 Permalink

      I went to Rendezvous a few times when I had friends or family visiting who wanted to go. Their dry rub has a really good taste, but the ribs themselves were always very tough for me. If you do go to Rendezvous, try their BBQ nachos. They put the dry rub seasoning and BBQ sauce on them, and are very good I think. In my opinion, I really liked Central and Germantown Commissary for pulled pork (I liked Commissary better, my wife preferred Central), BBQ Shop for ribs, and One And Only BBQ for Smoked chicken. Just my two cents…

  3. Rixter
    9:33 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

    Can’t argue with anything your said, Mrs. T. Good points.

  4. W.C.
    9:47 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

    It is a shock of WHEAT, not Corn. They were the Wheat Shockers before they shortened it. Nebraska owns the rights to corn.

    • Mrs. Tyler Thompson
      10:38 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

      That makes a lot more sense. Not sure why I said corn.

    • unbridled
      7:46 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      Either way…that is the creepiest “shock” of wheat I’ve ever seen then!

  5. maximumscott
    10:45 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

    Bilas has UL going to Final Four. Didnt he also say going to the ACC finals was tougher than going to Finals in NcAA tourny?!?! Ul didnt win a game. I hope the ACC teams tank belly up. So tired of this ACC narrative when over the past five years the title has come from the SEC, BIG East (2) ACC (2)

    • syrin23
      12:01 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      My gut feeling is that the ACC is vastly over rated, the Big Twelve and Big Ten under rated.

    • Eazy
      11:23 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      Lol, the big 12 is the most overrated conference every year. They have won 1 title in the last 29 years. The SEC does better in the tournament almost every year than the Big 12. SEC has 6 titles in the last 22 years. Only the ACC has more. ACC isn’t overrated. They generally do very well in March. It’s the Big 12 that always chokes. The PAC 12 is bad too. Big 10 does decent but they lack the titles.

  6. Catlogic15
    11:44 pm March 13, 2017 Permalink

    The shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo’s is as you say, but the rest of the experience (and food) has degraded considerably the last few years.

    • evilcarl
      12:14 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      Ate there 2 weeks ago. Better than Malones, FWIW.

  7. BBN17
    12:21 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

    In my bracket I have is winning it all beating Duke in the finals. We go through Wichita st, UCLA, UNC, And Kansas. I feel none of these teams would give us problems if we play like we have been. Ik it sounds stupid but it’s just my opinion. I’m not saying the games won’t be close, but i feel like the games will always be in our control.

  8. BiasedBigfoot
    12:49 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

    Wow. That was positive.

  9. Angelo
    1:51 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

    this is our best three point shooting team since 98!! if we need Bam, Cal should let him shoot three’s!! will scare opponents to death! Boogie could have saved us…

    • BBN17
      2:07 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

      I think what will scare teams the most is we know how to win in many different ways. But I do agree with you that this is a very good 3 point shooting team. DEARON has really improved.

  10. symphonist41169
    8:48 am March 14, 2017 Permalink

    Thank you Tyler, I’ve been making the SAME points since the bracket came out. We aren’t the same team that got beat by UCLA in December or needed 47 points from Malik to just get by UNC. Dom is now one of, if not THE, best 6th men in the country and gives us a big spark in offense and defense off the bench. Derek is now rebounding and more consistent in shooting the clutch 3, Bam has developed into a post presence both defensively and showing some great offensive footwork, and De’Aaron is starting to hit the jumper more consistently. Malik’s numbers have dipped slightly lately but I think it’s due to increased production from everybody else. And I LOVE when Cal decides to use the trapping zone press, I just wish he’d do it more often. I have us beating NKU, Dayton, UCLA, UNC, and UofL to reach the Finals. I can’t objectively say we’ll beat Villanova because I haven’t watched them enough, so I’ll go with my heart and say the Cats will bring home #9 on my Dad’s 74th birthday!!!!