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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / April 24.
  • Calipari Questions Kentucky’s Seed, Seeding Committee’s Criteria

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    john-calipariBy JOSH NEWMAN
    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    The University of Kentucky is the No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region, which has been dubbed the ‘Region of Death’ thanks to the fact that Wichita St., Michigan, Duke and Louisville comprise the top four seeds.

    Wildcats head coach John Calipari has a game against No. 9 seed Kansas St. to prepare for, so he doesn’t have much time to harp on how his team got seeded where it did, but at some point, he would like some answers.

    “First of all, you’ve gotta figure out why in the world did this happen and how it’s happened,” Calipari said Monday morning on a conference call. “I’m not worried about it, but someone’s gotta find out, when you have a strength of schedule of 2 and that’s all they keep talking about, what did you use to make our team an 8?”

    Some of Kentucky’s computer numbers seem to support Calipari’s argument. The consensus preseason No. 1 team in the nation, the 24-10 Wildcats had that second-ranked strength of schedule, a very respectable RPI of 17 and closed the season strong by losing in the SEC championship game on Sunday afternoon, 61-60, to Florida.

    Conversely, Kentucky’s presumed low seed was partly its own doing. Down the stretch, the Wildcats lost at home to Arkansas on Feb. 27, then fell at lowly South Carolina on March 1. The loss to the Gamecocks was particularly damning given the fact their RPI currently sits at 140. Kentucky also went 1-5 against the RPI top 25.

    “What did you use? And they could use anything,” Calipari said. “‘Well, it was a cloudy day that day and we decided they were an 8.’ In the end, you go and as a coach, that’s fine. Put me where you want and let’s go.”

    The SEC placed three teams in the field of 68, led by Florida, which is the No. 1 overall seed and winners of 26 straight entering its South Region opener against either Albany or Mount St. Mary’s. Tennessee is in the Midwest Region with Kentucky. The Volunteers are an 11-seed and will face Iowa in the First Four on Wednesday evening.

    Tennessee won six of seven games to close the season and still received that 11-seed, which prompted a controlled rant on the state of the seeding committee.

    “Tennessee played as well as any team in the country down the stretch,” Calipari said. “Do you take how teams were playing at the end or how we were playing at the end? ‘Not in your case.’ Well what did you take in our case? ‘Well you didn’t beat enough teams..'”

    “Compared to who? That’s the kind of stuff that our league, not me, not the ADs, but our league needs to find out who in the room, what were we basing this on, because you can’t keep moving the goalposts.”

    For Kentucky’s players, there is a lot on the line as a strong NCAA Tournament run could help shape their NBA Draft stock and, in the case of the Harrison twins, whether or not they decide to declare this spring or return to Lexington in 2015.

    Freshman power forward Julius Randle (No. 4), sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 12) and freshman wing James Young (No. 25) are all projected as first-round picks in the 2014 NBA Draft by DraftExpress

    DraftExpress has freshman center Dakari Johnson (No. 18), freshman shooting guard Aaron Harrison (No. 26), freshman combo guard Andrew Harrison (No. 31) and sophomore combo forward Alex Poythress (No. 35) tabbed for the 2015 draft.

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