Kentucky will open its 52nd NCAA tournament appearance in Louisville against the winner of a first-round game between Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky, but it gets tougher from there. A possible second-round opponent is UConn, with No. 4 Indiana possibly waiting beyond that. Before Sunday, the Hoosiers — who return to the tournament after a four-year drought — were the only team to beat Kentucky this season.
"The win streak? That's done now. The fact that we were invincible? That's done now," Calipari said. "We're going to be in a dogfight. That's how you have to approach this."
Second-seeded Duke got serious consideration for moving up to a No. 1, but an 18-point loss to North Carolina in the regular-season finale and a loss to Florida State in the ACC tournament certainly hurt. The Blue Devils are on the same side of the bracket with 11th-seeded Colorado, a team that got snubbed last year but won its way into the bracket this time by taking the Pac-12 tournament
The Pac-12 was woefully weak this year, placing only two teams and leaving Washington on the outside. This marked the first time the regular-season champion of a power conference got left out.
"Our guys are very, very disappointed, because I don't think after winning the conference outright they couldn't see any way we would not be in this tournament in their minds," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said.
In the West, Michigan State will begin its quest for its seventh Final Four since 1999 against No. 16 LIU. The bottom of the West draw features No. 2 Missouri, which won the Big 12 tournament but got penalized for a weak nonconference schedule.
"That hasn't changed at all over the years," Hathaway said, when asked whether the committee rewards programs that beef up their schedules.
In the East region, Syracuse opens against UNC Asheville with a possible third-round matchup against Jared Sullinger and Ohio State. Other games include No. 3 Florida State, which went 4-1 against Duke and North Carolina this year, against No. 14 St. Bonaventure, which was a surprise winner of the A-10 conference tournament and took a bubble spot away.
"There must be a lot of people on the basketball committee that don't know too much about basketball," said Dragons coach Bruiser Flint, whose team went 27-6.
Others left out included Miami, Northwestern, Nevada and Oral Roberts. All had flaws, as did Iona, though the Gaels' strength of schedule appeared to carry them through.
"We tried to play teams or conferences ranked above ours, and most of those games we really had to play on the road to get those games," Iona coach Tim Cluess said. "We spent seven, eight weeks in a row on the road this year, but those were the teams we had to play to give ourselves a chance."
Hathaway said the committee gave Kansas heavy consideration as a No. 1 team. The Jayhawks, however, lost to Baylor in the Big 12 semifinals.
"We're fine with it," coach Bill Self said. "I don't think we deserve to be better than a 2. We may have been if we'd played well in (the Big 12 tournament), but we didn't. I think after everyone gets through talking about the seeds, it's about matchups anyway."
Among the most intriguing would be a Midwest regional final pitting No. 1 North Carolina and former Jayhawks coach Roy Williams against those very Jayhawks — a game that would be played in St. Louis.
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