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Lower-seeded teams have historic hangover record after upsetting Kentucky in NCAA Tournament

Last night, Sister Jean and the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers claimed the first spot in the NCAA Tournament, knocking off Kansas State in the Elite Eight.

The Big Blue Nation obviously cheered for the epic Cinderella story to put a hurting on the team that crushed their Final Four dreams in the Sweet 16.

When it actually happened, though, it left a feeling of “what could have been?” Kentucky had a dream scenario for a trip to San Antonio unfold, with just about every ball (literally) bouncing the right way to open up a favorable path. The Cats could have seen 12, 13, 9, and 11-seeds to punch a ticket to the Final Four.

And then they shot just 38% from the field, 25% from three, committed 15 turnovers, and delivered just six assists against Kansas State. Oh, and they shot 62% from the line, including 8-20 from PJ Washington. Make just two more free throws, you likely win it in overtime. Commit one or two fewer turnovers, manage just a few more assists, knock down one more three, etc., we’re likely booking flights to San Antonio.

But we didn’t. And we had to watch the team that sent Kentucky home stink it up against a solid Loyola team in the Elite Eight. It stung.

We always talk about Kentucky being every team’s Super Bowl, where the opposing fans rally around their team unlike any other game of the season. It specifically happens when the Cats travel on the road to face teams statistically worse than they are, and the underdogs still almost always manage to give Kentucky their best shot. In the NCAA Tournament, that “Super Bowl” mindset is only heightened, as we saw with Kansas State.

But after, there is almost always a letdown.

According to Corey Price of Cat Scratches, teams seeded lower than Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament that manage to pull off upsets against the Cats (prior to the title game) are a combined 0-15 in their next game.

Kansas State this year, Indiana in 2016, Wisconsin in 2015, West Virginia in 2010, etc. They all took home losses immediately after upsetting the Cats.

In fact, Price says that not only does the team lose after upsetting Kentucky, they usually get destroyed in their next game. Kansas State got beat by 11-seed Loyola by 16 points last night, almost exactly nailing the average.

When Coach Cal says we are every team’s Super Bowl, he’s not lying.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

18 Comments for Lower-seeded teams have historic hangover record after upsetting Kentucky in NCAA Tournament



  1. makeitstop
    11:11 am March 25, 2018 Permalink

    Well as good as Cal’s record is in the tourney, 4 FF and 6 Elite 8’s in 9 years, you could ask why half the time (4 of 8 NCAA tourneys) or 5/9 counting NIT we lose to lower rated teams? And u could add in UConn 2014 who was a higher seed (7) than us (8) but we were favored. That doesn’t outweigh the successes but it is worth asking, are we doing something wrong. Pretty good correlation between those losses and bad FT shooting as I recall from an earlier article. Cal – time for a tweak.



    • T-wah
      12:23 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

      Excellent assessment and great reflective question.



    • Cokely53
      12:48 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

      Hard to lose to higher ranked teams when you’re a top seed. 67 teams in the tourney lose every year. Plenty of teams who shoot good free throws. Take out PJ and we only missed 2 free throws that game. Quit poking holes in something that’s working.



    • makeitstop
      4:43 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

      Cokely, we were a 4 seed twice in that data and an 8 seed in ‘14, but that doesn’t alter the fact we lost to lower seeded teams 5 of 9 years counting the NIT and lost to a higher seeded underdog another. That’s underperforming against expectations set not by fans but alleged experts and professional bettors. And whether it’s one player as this it was this year or two it’s the team average that’s 12% lower in those losses. That’s not idle data, in most cases if we shot our season average we win those games. It should at least pop up in a root cause analysis and warrants attention by our sufficiently compensated basketball staff. I’d Nick Savanna lost 5/9 on missed extra points, what do u think he would do? Or Bellichik? They’d be asking is it personnel or training or execution.



    • makeitstop
      4:45 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

      That’s nick saban, way to go autocorrect… who the heck is nick savanna, sheez!?



  2. chrislarkey
    11:20 am March 25, 2018 Permalink

    I sure hope K-St shook hands after the game.



  3. henderblue
    11:56 am March 25, 2018 Permalink

    Yep. They shot their wad on our game.



  4. Ben27
    12:40 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

    With such young teams, it is almost impossible to survive a cold shooting night. I love the talent level, but it gets frustrating to lose to lesser teams. I am so tired of players leaving before they are ready. Kansas Duke North Carolina all have great players stay longer. It is like a shame to stay more than one year at Kentucky. We need to change this mindset.



    • bluecrowe
      1:42 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

      Ben I agree. We do need to change that mindset, as the great players tend to stay at Kansas, Duke and North Carolina longer than they do at KY. Going to Lithuania or New Mexico to play in the G League does not help your family. If that is the level you end up at after 2-4 years in college then fine, but to go running out of KY for this crap seems bizarre and absolutely not helpful to the kids themselves. Often Cal has recruited over them before they have even entered SEC play their Freshmen years anyway. 🙂



  5. Ben27
    12:44 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

    It is no great accomplishment for Matt to beat Mitch In the Senate race. Mitch is damaged goods that even most Republicans will not vote for again. Rino Republicans will lose big time next election. You can’t make promises and then not follow through. This goes for Democrats too.



    • Jambluehue99
      2:11 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

      I hate when they post political stuff and then won’t allow anyone to comment. Cowards.



  6. RICKSVD
    12:45 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

    Well I feel better now.



  7. UKBlue1
    3:26 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

    All of this has been predictable; the main attribute Cal has never really recruited are dead eye shooters ie 3 point specialist. Except for 2012 at tournament time one big thing that has gotten us in trouble in the tournament is our inability or inconsistency to hit 3’s. K State had a great game plan & played the odds; pack the driving lanes to shut Skai down, stop any possible shooters coming off curls & screens, and make UK beat them hitting 3’s & PJ from the free throw line. Our biggest weakness all year was shooting; if weren’t hitting shoots esp 3’s & if Shai couldn’t get in the paint to score we were in all kinds of trouble.



    • ThatsAShame
      4:35 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

      I agree that the scouting report on us this year is pack the paint. However, we still had a very solid inside game against them.
      KState needed 3 things to go perfect.
      1. We couldn’t shoot 3s
      2. They needed to hit 3’s
      3. Turn the game into a rock fight.



  8. KYFAN4LYFE
    3:42 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

    After watching the L-C/KSt game yesterday, I feel like KSt did UK a favor. L-C is legit, and I’m glad we ended the season on a hard fought, close game, rather than a blowout at the hands of a team like L-C.



  9. mikeintn
    4:40 pm March 25, 2018 Permalink

    Really, I saw K State fighting, it was easy to see they wanted it.