By Josh Cook
The University of Kentucky, fresh off its thrilling victory in today's Southeastern Conference Tournament title game, is the No. 1 seed in
the NCAA Tournament's East Region.
The Wildcats are the overall No. 2 seed in the tournament in the pairings announced this evening.
Meanwhile the University of Louisville is a No. 9 seed in the South
Region, and has a potential second-round game against Duke. While Murray State is the No. 13 seed in the West Region.
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Kentucky (32-2) will play East Tennessee State (20-14) at 7:15 p.m. Thursday in New Orleans in the first round at the New Orleans Arena. Tickets are still available.
Barring the first first-round upset of a No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history the Wildcats will play the winner between eighth-seed Texas (24-9) and ninth-seed Wake Forest (19-10) on Saturday in the second round. If UK advances it will play the final two rounds of the region in Syracuse, N.Y. on March 25 and 27 at the Carrier Dome. Tickets are still available.
The Final Four will be April 3 and 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Buccaneers (20-14), UK's first-round foe, won the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. They are led by forward Tommy Hubbard (14.1 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game).
The Wildcats, who outlasted Mississippi State 75-74 in overtime in Sunday's SEC Tournament final, are led by freshmen John Wall (16.4 ppg, 5.3 assists per game) and DeMarcus Cousins (15.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg) and junior Patrick Patterson (13.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg).
"I'm happy that we're a 1 seed," UK coach John Calipari said. "There's no easy road, they're all hard, some are a little easier, but they're still hard...you don't want to look beyond, for us, East Tennessee State."
Down the road for UK is a potential Round of 16 game against possibly No. 4 seed Wisconsin or No. 5 Temple with a potential Elite Eight showdown against No. 2 seed West Virginia, the Big East Conference Tournament championship.
There is also a possibility of a Final Four meeting between UK and Duke, the No. 1 seed in the South.
Meanwhile the Cardinals (20-12) could see the Blue Devils first, if UofL can get past Pac-10 regular season champ California at 9:45 p.m. Friday in Jacksonville, Fla. at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Tickets are still available.
"A very dangerous team, Louisville," ESPN analyst Digger Phelps said on the network's coverage of the announcement of the pairings.
Rick Pitino's team, which is led by senior guard Edgar Sosa (13.3 ppg) and sophomore center Samardo Samuels (15.3 ppg, 7 rpg), will take on the Bears and veteran coach Mike Montgomery. Cal is led by guards Jerome Randle (18.7 ppg) and Patrick Christopher (16 ppg).
If UofL can win that game it would likely face Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski, who beat Pitino and his UK team in the memorable 1992 East Region final, Sunday.
Meanwhile Murray State (30-4), a No. 13 seed in the West Region, will take on fourth-seeded Vanderbilt (24-8) at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in San Jose, Calif. at the HP Pavilion. Tickets are still available.
The Racers, who lost only one Ohio Valley Conference game all season, won the OVC regular season and post-season titles. They have five players averaging between 10.6 and 10.3 points per game, led by sophomore forward Ivan Aska (10.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg). The Commodores, who were second in the SEC East behind UK, are led by guard Jermaine Beal (14.7 ppg) and center A.J. Ogilvy (13.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg).
"Murray State is the dangerous team in this bracket," ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb said on the network's coverage of the announcement of the pairings.