It’s Tournament Time!

TONY VANETTI: A whole season of college basketball here in the Commonwealth. You guys are undefeated, Louisville are looking at a four-seed. It doesn’t get better than that does it?

MATT JONES: Well it could for Louisville, they could be better than a fourth-seed. They’re kind of lucky to be a fourth-seed with the team they currently have. With Kentucky, it’s the greatest regular season that Kentucky basketball has ever had, no matter what happens over the next four weeks, it’s been a pretty amazing year for the Cats and I think people, especially UK fans should take a step back and realize how special this all really is.

VANETTI: I’ll give you props when props are due, and there has been very little drama around the program. I thought Cal would kick into “Calipari Mode” in the mid-season when it was starting to get boring, kick up some dust and just be Calipari. But that hasn’t happened and you’re winning basketball games and moving on. Louisville, on the other hand, have taken a team that in my opinion has a lot of mediocre players in the starting line-up and done pretty well going 24-7 against a strength of schedule that I think is not too bad. So, good for them, with Rick Pitino pulling it out. Now they go into the conference championship.

JONES: Well, it’s all about your perspective in regards to 24-7 being a good year. That’s fair to say. But there are two things that make it hard as a Louisville fan to be totally happy. Number one is that you probably thought you’d be a little better than that. Not necessarily the record, but it doesn’t feel like Louisville is a contender to win the title, and I think a lot of Louisville fans thought they would be at least in the discussion to win the title if not be a contender. At this point they’re really not. The second thing is – and I’m not mocking – because I have sympathy for UofL fans because it’s hard to enjoy 24-7 when 31-0 is down the road.

VANETTI: No, certainly Lexington is casting a shadow the last couple of years. But Louisville has been almost trying to match it by winning titles and going to Final Fours and competing and doing well. I will agree with you that there is a certain part of the fanbase that expected them to compete for a national title, including me. They were ranked in the top-5, they looked like they were just rolling through opponents, beating up what we thought were good teams in Minnesota and Ohio State and again, what Kentucky has done is cast that shadow over 24-7. It’s been a quiet 31-0 though, at least for us.

JONES: We’ve been very helpful haven’t we? We don’t brag about it. We just quietly go about our business. Here’s the thing that’s really rewarding the UK fans at the moment – in a year where North Carolina, Syracuse and Kansas are under investigation, and there have been sexual assault claims against Duke and Louisville – Kentucky in a lot of people’s minds has been this rogue program under Calipari. But this program has not only not been a scandal, they’ve had like the nicest kids in the world on their team. And there is nothing really that you can criticize UK about. After having a number of years where it felt like everyone was kind of out to get Kentucky. Now, even the people who were out to get them don’t have anything they can say.

VANETTI: To me, I just think it’s the sad state of the NCAA, as in the committee and the NCAA as an entity and how they run the NCAA and the basketball programs themselves. Syracuse is an absolute joke, Jim Boeheim I think should be gone by the end of the year. He should be gone now. Kansas has their trouble, Duke has their trouble, Louisville too. These are the blue bloods of college basketball. This isn’t Iona; it’s the cream of the crop of college basketball. When you have that many problems you have to start looking at the overall picture and what we’re doing in college basketball.

JONES: And guess who’s not in trouble, Tony?

VANETTI: There will be a rock that’s turned over and something will come up. No one can be this lucky.

JONES: It’s not luck, it’s good. It’s that six years have culminated in this wonderful group of young men who are representing the blue on the corn. And it is a beautiful thing. We’re going into the postseason now. For Kentucky, they’re heading into a conference tournament that both matters and doesn’t. They’re going to be the No. 1 overall seed no matter what, and their chances of winning the national championship don’t get hindered, win or lose. So this is about history Tony, don’t you agree? Staying undefeated.

VANETTI: Yes, there’s no doubt about it, because if you lose a game it won’t matter. You’re the number one seed overall, no matter what happens. Kentucky needs to just roll in there and be themselves. But they can lose in the second round to LSU, and it won’t matter. They will go into the tournament No.1 overall and take their chances. I know you don’t believe that a loss is ever good, but I think a loss for Kentucky in the SEC would not be bad.

JONES: I think there is a difference. I don’t think it would be bad, but I don’t think it’s necessary. That’s my only point. If it happens fine, if it doesn’t fine.