LEXINGTON, Ky. – Hours after winning its 31st Southeastern Conference Tournament title, the University of Kentucky men’s basketball extended its national record for most NCAA Tournament appearances to 57 on Sunday, March 11, as the team was selected as the No. 5 seed in the South Region. The Wildcats will play Davidson, the No. 12 seed in the region, on Thursday night, March 15 in Boise, Idaho.
This is the second time in program history the Wildcats have earned a No. 5 seed in the annual event. The only previous time was in 2000 when the Wildcats played in Cleveland, defeating St. Bonaventure 85-80 in overtime in the first round before falling to fourth-seeded Syracuse in the second round, 52-50.
Kentucky enters the NCAA Tournament fresh off an 77-72 win over No. 13/12 Tennessee (25-8) to seize the SEC Tournament championship. The tournament title was UK’s sixth under John Calipari and fourth straight. The Wildcats (24-10) have won seven of their last eight games entering the NCAA Tournament, with four of those seven wins coming against teams that were ranked or receiving votes in the national listings.
UK is 45-10 in tournament openers and has won 24 of its last 25 first round tournament games. UK owns a 124-50 record all-time in NCAA action, with its .712 winning percentage the fifth-best in NCAA history. This is the fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the Wildcats.
Kentucky owns a 1-0 record all-time against Davidson in the NCAA Tournament, defeating the Wildcats 75-55 in the opening round in 1986 in Charlotte. UK was a No. 1 seed that season and advanced to the regional finals before falling to LSU. Davidson is coming off a 58-57 upset of top-seeded Rhode Island in the finals of the A-10 Tournament on Sunday. In addition to receiving the league's automatic bid with the win, the Wildcats advanced to their 14th NCAA Tournament and ninth under head coach Bob McKillop. Davidson is 21-11 on the year and has won eight of its last nine games. The Wildcats are averaging 76.4 points per game this season and are paced by senior forward Peyton Aldridge, who is averaging 21.5 points per game with 7.8 rebounds per game.
With a win over Davidson, Kentucky would face the winner of the No. 4 seed Arizona (27-7) vs. No. 13 seed Buffalo (26-8) matchup. Kentucky and Arizona have met just once in the NCAA Tournament in the 1997 championship game with Arizona earning a 84-79 overtime win. UK and Buffalo have never played in the tournament, but Kentucky owns a 1-0 advantage all-time over the Bulls having defeated UB 71-52 on Nov. 16, 2014.
Tickets for the first and second round games in Boise can be purchased by visiting NCAA.com/mbbtickets. Fans will find complete ticket information for all NCAA sites, including information on NCAA Ticket Exchange, the official secondary marketplace for authentic NCAA Tournament tickets. Student ticket information will be posted online at UKStudentTix.com later this evening.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught