I don’t think any UK fan wouldn’t admit that the bracket has fallen our way this year. But by no means should Cal or the guys be criticized for something that was completely out of their control. In fact, they should be celebrated for slamming a Buffalo team by 20 that had just blasted Arizona by 21. The Cats hammered an opponent that they should have hammered. Now they catch another break in the draw, avoiding Virginia. Again, good luck for us but certainly not something that should be held against us. We simply lace it up against whoever is in front of us and perform.
But whether or not it was Virginia or Kansas State or UMBC that we would be facing this week, there is no round of the draw where Calipari teams have been more superior than in the Sweet 16. He is 6-0 in Sweet 16 games at Kentucky, winning those games by an average of 14.3 points per game. But that doesn’t tell the whole tale. Kentucky also outperforms where Vegas sees the game going in each and every one of those six games:
2017: UCLA (1.5 point underdog, WON by 11)
2015: West Virginia (13.5 point favorite, WON by 39)
2014: Louisville (4.5 point underdog, WON by 5)
2012: Indiana (10 point favorite, WON by 12)
2011: Ohio State (5.5 point underdog, WON by 2)
2010: Cornell (8 point favorite, WON by 17)
And you can’t argue that Kentucky has caught good draws in all of those instances. In 2010, Cornell was a good draw. Since that time, Kentucky has played a Top 5 seed in all of these instances.
I think you could argue that 1st round games in the NCAA Tournament are tough because you are trying to get past those early round jitters. By the time you get to the Sweet 16, you are fully in the tournament and it’s simply about executing. Cal getting 5 days to prepare for an opponent has led to great performances year after year. And I would expect nothing different this week. Whatever the spread turns out to be, lean heavy towards the Cats!