After 3 years of no worse than a four seed, two final fours and one NCAA Tournament championship, the Wildcats will be competing in the National Invitational Tournament, or so I assume. It is almost certain as one of the first few teams left out that Kentucky will be invited into the NIT, an invitation they will accept.
One of our commenters described the feeling after the NCAA selection show just accomplished as, "empty," and I think that completely encapsulates my feelings as well. Even though this non-announcement was literally fait accompli, it still stings to be left out of the tournament in favor of teams like Boise St. and Oregon. No disrespect intended to them, but blueblood programs like Kentucky keenly feel bad seasons, and any season that misses the NCAA tournament is a very bad one indeed. Neither Kentucky basketball, nor the Big Blue Nation, do humble very well.
With that said, we have no time to lament the inevitable. Missing the tournament this year is very likely nothing more than a required karmic recharge before we win our ninth national championship next year, and I am comfortable in my conviction that will in fact happen a mere 12 months and change from now.
Until then, we must face the NIT, and that selection show is tonight on ESPNU at 9:00 PM. We will, of course, have an open thread for that discussion as well. I understand that this is a disappointment for everyone, but as the poem says, we have miles to go before we sleep. Well, at least one basketball game, anyway.
While I realize this feels like punishment for a proud program like Kentucky, it would be helpful if we didn’t look at it that way. I think most of us understood this was possible, as no strategy, not Calipari’s nor anyone else’s, is foolproof. Also, since the objective of every season at UK is a championship, it was not likely to happen this year even if we were selected – this team just isn’t good enough. We are in the tournament that our season is worthy of.
So those of us left standing and able to smile through the pain, let’s get behind the guys for whatever lies ahead, knowing that while the future is much brighter than the present, it is a long way away. Who knows? Perhaps a phoenix may yet rise from the ashes of this season, and even if it isn’t what anyone wanted, the competition against other good teams can do us nothing but good.