VAUGHT: A series of amazing coincidences

Isn't it an amazing coincidence that Kentucky got paired against Eastern Kentucky with its made for TV storyline involving coach Travis Ford to open NCAA Tournament play.

Isn't it an amazing coincidence that Kentucky got paired against Eastern Kentucky with its made for TV storyline involving coach Travis Ford to open NCAA Tournament play. And what a coincidence that UK might have to play Cincinnati, a team it has refused to schedule in the second round. Then again, it has to be coincidence that UK could also find itself playing Duke -- remember the TV drama in the last two UK-Duke NCAA Tournament games -- in the regional final.

Of course, it has to be a coincidence, too, that UK was sent to Indianapolis which has a lot of $150 tickets remaining to be sold instead of Nashville, which has a sold-out arena where a lot of Big Blue fans already had purchased tickets.

Obviously, I'm just a tad jaded when it comes to believing the NCAA selection committee never looks at those things when it makes the tournament pairings. But the best thing about the NCAA Tournament is that the only thing that really matters is how a team plays for six games.

That's why there's no reason to push the panic button just because UK was outplayed today by Florida, wilted on the boards and couldn't score in the last 11 minutes.

"Going into the tournament last year we were playing real well," Kentucky senior Chuck Hayes said. "We had great chemistry. We had experience. We were rolling and playing with a lot of confidence. I thought we had a great chance to win the national championship."

Then UK went out and got upset 76-75 in the second round by Alabama-Birmingham.

That's why what Florida coach Billy Donovan, a man who has had his share of tourney disappointments in recent years, made a lot of sense.

He knew better than to think winning the SEC Tournament would guarantee NCAA success with the balance across the country.

"You have to be willing to accept that you could go out early or go on a tremendous run. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. The other team can just play better and then you go home," Donovan said. "With the way teams have beat each other this year, nothing that happens in the tournament should surprise you because there are not going to be many easy games for anyone."

He's right. Kentucky should handily beat Eastern. But if Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Duke are in the Cats' path to get to the Final Four, that's a big task.

Then again, one or all of those teams could get beat before they get to UK. Wouldn't that be a coincidence that no one on the selection committee never anticipated.?


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