Kentucky senior Josh Harrellson added that he was “disappointed” at being chosen as a No.4 seed.
“We thought we should have been a three seed and a lot of people probably aren’t happy with where we are right now, but we can’t really complain,” he said. “We’ve just got to come out, compete and play basketball. I don’t think seeds matter, it’s the NCAA Tournament.”
If Kentucky wins its opener, it will set up a possible rematch with West Virginia, which defeated the Wildcats 73-66 in last year’s East Region finals the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. West Virginia plays the winner of the UAB-Clemson game in the opening round. The Mountaineers are one of 11 teams from the Big East who received bids to the Big Dance.
“Somebody called that (potential matchup) about three weeks ago,” Calipari said. “It was just a guess (at the time), but it ended up being right.”
Kentucky is one of five SEC teams in the tourney, all schools from the Eastern division. Florida, which has lost to the Wildcats twice in the past 10 days, is the No. 2 seed in the Southeast Region.
“You could see they had (the SEC) as a two and a four (seed), and they didn’t feel comfortable flipping us and Florida,” Calipari said. “What I thought going in was, that we were both three (seeds) or one of us is a three and one of us is a four (seed). Whoever won the game would flip, because they could easily do that. It’s good for Florida and I’m happy four teams from our league got in. We deserved that.”
The Wildcats (25-8) enter the tournament with a six-game winning streak following the double-digit victory over the Gators in the tournament finals. Kentucky finished second in the Eastern division behind the Gators during the regular season.
Kentucky received a scare in the closing seconds of a 72-58 win over Alabama in the conference tournament semifinals when freshmen guard Doron Lamb sprained his ankle, but Calipari insisted his team is “healthy” entering the Big Dance.
Lamb played 23 minutes and scored six points in Kentucky’s win over Florida and said the ankle was sore but isn’t a concern.
“It hurts a little bit right now, but I’ll be 100 percent by Friday,” he said.
Like Calipari, Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight thought the Cats deserved a higher seed, but is prepared for the task at hand.
“We’ll just accept the challenge and go from there,” he said.
“I can’t wait,” Lamb said with a smile.