Kentucky competes to be second eight seed to win national championship
04/02/2014 05:00 PM
Kentucky is trying to become only the second team ever to win a national championship as an eight seed. That, by the way, is the lowest seed to ever win the title. The first eight seed to win it all was Villanova in 1986 over Georgetown in the miracle game. Although almost four decades separate these two teams, they have a lot in common.
The easiest comparison is that both Villanova and Kentucky are Wildcats. Also, the two head coaches have a similar philosophy. Rollie Massimino, who coached at Villanova from 1973 to 1992, trumpeted the family atmosphere to recruits during his time with the Wildcats. John Calipari is famous for his saying “Be your brothers’ keeper.”
Both Kentucky and Villanova ended the season unranked in the AP Poll, and both teams suffered 10 losses between the regular season and conference tournaments. Another connection between the two schools is the location of Villanova’s title game. The ’85-‘86 Wildcats won their championship on the ’13-‘14 Wildcats’ home court of Rupp Arena.
Villanova lost to Georgetown twice in the regular season, but the Wildcats won the championship rematch. Kentucky could get the same opportunity if Florida advances to the title game. UK lost twice in the regular season and once in the conference tournament to the Gators.
Finally, the ’85-‘86 Villanova team produced six future NBA players. Kentucky will most likely match that in the years to come (and possibly this year’s draft alone). In this year’s Final Four, UK must pass Wisconsin first on Saturday to get the title game, and then they would have a chance to match Villanova’s come-from-behind success.