Kentucky Ends Wichita State's Unbeaten Season
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
OK. Time for an update on March Madness and first condolences are in order for the state of Kansas. Two of its highly regarded men's college basketball teams are out of the tournament. And in addition to condolences to Kansas, I can hear a lot of brackets shredding all over the country. The University of Kansas, a number two seed, lost yesterday to Stanford 70-to-67.
And also the undefeated Wichita State Shockers are undefeated no more. They lost to Kentucky in a thriller yesterday, 78-to76. NPR's Tom Goldman has been taking in all the action and joins us. Morning, Tom.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, David. How are you?
GREENE: I'm well, thank you. Well, let's start with Wichita State. I mean, they went into their game 35 and 0, trying to become the first team to go a whole season without losing, since Indiana did it in 1976. And everyone was saying - or at least, a lot of people were saying the Shockers, they just didn't play a lot of tough competition and they padded their record. Did Kentucky prove that was the case?
GOLDMAN: You know, some will say that, David, but I don't think that should be the takeaway. Wichita state lost to a seriously good Kentucky team. And what many said was a seriously under-seeded Kentucky team, a number eight seed, a team that was a pre-season favorite to win title, a team that almost beat Florida, the top ranked team in this tournament, in the Southeastern conference tournament.
It was great game against Wichita State, back and forth. Kentucky just made more plays at the end. And Kentucky head coach John Calipari said it best about this game, which was played early in the tournament, in the round of 32. Calipari said: I've been doing this so long. I've been in wars. You all understand this was an Elite Eight game. The winner of this should have gone to the Final Four.
GREENE: Well, and Calipari is not the first one to say this year that the seedings in this tournament are just way off, right?
GOLDMAN: Yeah. I was at the Delaware versus Michigan State round of 64 game in Spokane, Washington last week and after the game, which number 13 seeded Delaware lost to the number four Spartans by 15 points, Delaware head coach Montay Ross said Michigan State's number four seed hurt his team which he called a very good 13 seed. He said his team shouldn't have had to play Michigan State which many, including the president of the United States, were picking to win the title.
You know, Ross followed this up by saying he wasn't criticizing the selection committee - he actually was - which seeds the teams for the tourney. He understands they have a tough job. It's just that his team shouldn't have had to play the Spartans. At least not in the first round.
GREENE: Well, criticism or not, doesn't the selection committee have a really tough task, especially this year? Because there's so much parity.
GOLDMAN: Yeah. I think that's a really good point. You know, it is harder to predict these games. I mean, did you hear the billion dollar bracket contest, where people were trying to win a billion dollars for a perfect bracket, ended basically before it started? Reportedly it took 25 games to eliminate all the entries.
GOLDMAN: The contest was supposed to be limited to 15 million people. It's what happens in a wide open tournament like this with upsets galore. It really does make it tough going forward for the selection committee.
GREENE: Well, and Tom, before we go, this was supposed to be the year of the freshman. I mean, so many stars. Freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins for Kansas, perhaps finishing his college career - if you call one year a college career - before going pro on kind of a down note.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, he did. He had four points, four turnovers in the loss. Jabari Parker for Duke 14 points on four of 14 shooting. Not very good in that loss to Mercer. On the other hand, Julius Randle of Kentucky played a big part in the win over Wichita State, as did a couple of other freshmen starters for the Wildcats, twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison.
John Calipari is at it again with his freshmen and sophomores and Kentucky is looking good.
GREENE: All right. On we go to the Sweet Sixteen. Thanks, as always, Tom.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
GREENE: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.