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UK’s new NCAA path changes fan mindset

In some ways, Kentucky’s path to the Final Four is even harder now — at least for the fans.

For the players, I’m sure they much prefer the group that is heading to Atlanta now, and not the group everyone expected before the tournament began. But for us, the fans, the new path brings on an all new case of anxiety, and I would argue it’s much worse.

I’ll explain: If Kentucky were to play Virginia and then Cincinnati or Tennessee to reach the Final Four, we could live with an early exit from Atlanta. Virginia is (was) the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, so a loss to the Cavaliers would’ve been understandable, as would any outcome in the Elite Eight.

But now, with the No. 9 seed and then the No. 7/11 winner standing between Kentucky and San Antonio, anything short of winning the South region will be considered a huge disappointment. The path is wide open, and Kentucky has to take advantage of this unimaginable opportunity.

How we watch the games changes now, too.

In 2012 and 2015, when Kentucky was the favorite in every game it played, the fans’ mindset was “Please don’t mess this up” because expectations were so high. It made for a fun, but nerve-racking March. Wins were celebrated with a sigh of relief, not so much euphoria; whereas in years like 2011 and 2014, each game had far less pressure, so wins were much more fun. The mindset in those years was “Okay, let’s see if we can do something special,” and each new step forward was considered as somewhat of a bonus. We didn’t expect to go far, so going far was a lot more fun. There wasn’t as much pressure to win, therefore the games were a little easier to watch.

Now we’re back to those 2012 and 2015 runs, which isn’t fair to this team, but it’s how things have played out. Kentucky will be the favorite in both games in Atlanta (should they get two games), and all expectations are for Kentucky to finish the job and reach the Final Four. We’re back to the “Please don’t mess this up” mindset of the past, and it’s going to make for a nerve-racking weekend.

Of course, we wouldn’t trade this new path for the alternative. Give us Kansas State and Nevada/Loyola-Chicago all day over Virginia and Cincinnati/Tennessee. But now that it’s here, the anxiety is real as the Cats go from the South’s scary team with upset potential to the South’s heavy favorite to win the region.

Please don’t mess this up.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

25 Comments for UK’s new NCAA path changes fan mindset

  1. Aar
    6:19 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    My game day mindset all season has been I defined by 2 questions: “will the Cats beat themselves today?” and “how much will a Cat or the Cats grow today?”. No expectations other than being entertained. All season, I have believed that they are so young and talented that they can both lose to and beat anybody in the country on any given day. I’ve enjoyed the ride and have no intention of changing my approach now. Looking forward to watching the Cats play one more game this year. Hope they do well enough to get to play another game after that….

  2. Ridge Runner
    6:25 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    Great point Drew

    • syrin23
      7:05 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      I disagree. This feels nothing like 2012 and 2015. This team is playing championship level defense. We won last game with Know playing bad for all but 5 minutes, Green bad the whole game and without Vanderbilt. We beat Davidson while being outscored from behind the arc 33-0. This is a team of destiny. If Villanova and Duke lose, we have the most talented team remaining.

  3. lindamyers56
    6:28 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    Too many conspiracies. I just accept the game they bring win or lose. Losing isn’t fun but it’s part of life. I’m there regardless.

  4. ukcamel
    6:32 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    The worst tournament games are the ones against rivals like UNC or Louisville, where sure it’s nice if you win, but it stings 100x worse to lose.

    That’s the other reason I like our draw now, we won’t go up against a team I really hate until the championship game.

  5. Alleykat16
    6:32 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    My expectations will not change on how I watch this team going forward I expect us to play hard and to try and win no matter the opponent. Now the media will paint the picture that now we should be the best team left in the south, but in reality I dont see it that way. The teams that are in our way are having way more experience than what this team has. We have just gotten 2 seniors and a junior joining the team I dont think. So we still are very limited when it comes to our experience.

  6. ClutchCargo
    6:33 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    With all due respect, this is a loser attitude. A lot of us understand how to enjoy the victories more than we fear defeat. Or is it just me?

    • Rixter
      6:46 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      it’s not just you. I think that’s most of BBN… but it makes a better story to write about the fringe fans…..

  7. Wade
    6:44 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    Play seniors all the time at the park and there not any good just set shots and bad knees. Go cats

  8. Rixter
    6:45 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    Let me get this straight. Cat fans were worried that the braket was too hard, and now they’re worried that it’s too easy??? What is Cincinnati was still in.. would it be too just right?

  9. UKrailbird
    7:10 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    They way I view it is the Cats are playing on house money.

  10. Steady
    7:10 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink


  11. Mc12
    7:43 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    My biggest concern is Sister Jean and the strings she’s been pulling with Jesus to get the results she wants.

  12. Catlogic15
    8:05 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    I could never “live” with losing to Cincinnati or Tennessee for a final 4 berth.

  13. catheaven
    8:17 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    Where are you guys doing pregame show Thurs? Listen to you everyday and want to go to show.

  14. Smyrna_Cat
    8:29 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    Many of us “fans” have understood the efforts of the team and Cal, and knew they were geared toward March. The attitude you speak of us more an attitude of KSR writers, who seemed to dis this team every chance.

    I didn’t change my mind about this team. I am just pleased they are playing so well right now, and hope they continue.

  15. Willdcat
    10:16 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    This article was garbage and ridiculous! Thanks!

  16. BigBlueNationDude
    10:17 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    Hasnt changed my mindset unless the trophy comes to lexington. 1 title thus far with amazing talent.

    • Rixter
      7:53 pm March 20, 2018 Permalink

      Bigbluenationdude has a ‘mindset’ LOL

    • ClutchCargo
      8:02 pm March 20, 2018 Permalink

      “Mindset” implies that he has a mind. I’m calling BS.

  17. BigBlueNationDude
    10:17 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    Everyones going bonkers over a sweet 16 beating a 12 and 13 seed. Wow!!

  18. kentuckyrld
    12:06 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

    Is the author of this article the dumbest human being to ever live or is he just pretending to be.

  19. TB112162
    2:11 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t worry about things I have no control over.Im gonna watch hope we continue to play well and if we do I think will be ok but I disagree losing to North Carolina or Duke doesn’t hurt anymore or less than hurting to West Virginia or losing to Wisconsin and U Conn in the final four

  20. TB112162
    2:12 am March 20, 2018 Permalink


  21. TB112162
    2:14 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

    BigBlueNationDude why do you keep pretending your a UK fan we all know who you are