March 17, 2013
Kentucky didn't make the NCAA Tournament, but John Calipari is going home for UK's NIT appearance.
The Wildcats were seeded No. 1 overall in the NIT and will play No. 8 Robert Morris, which finished 23-10 and 14-4 in the Northeast Conference.
The Colonials played two teams from a major conference, losing by two at Xavier and by five at Arkansas. They have four players averaging 10 or more points per game and have the ninth-highest steal rate in the nation. More than 41 percent of their shot attempts are 3-pointers, and they make 38 percent of them (26th in the nation).
"I feel like Rocky who just got his shot (at the title)," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said on ESPNU.
Robert Morris' campus is less than a mile down the road from Moon Area High School, where John Calipari went to high school. Their gym has an official capacity of 3,056.
"Tickets are going to be in high demand," Toole said.
For Kentucky, it's a disappointing ending. They're the fifth team since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams to go from winning the national championship to missing out on the field and the fifth team to start a year ranked in the AP preseason top-5 and miss the tournament.
It will be Kentucky's eight NIT appearance in program history and Calipari's sixth.
I’m really disappointed we didn’t make the NCAA Tournament but we are going to use this time to make us better," Calipari tweeted on Sunday. "We had our chances, but I’m not going to stop. It’s a great lesson for the future of our program (and) a humbling experience for me as a coach. To the (Big Blue Nation), you did your part all season long. You showed up in droves and helped us pull through key games. We didn’t do our part. Even now, I’m going to coach these guys, try to make them better (and) give everything I can to make sure we control our destiny in the future."