BTI's Rants and Ramblings: Calipari Needs Some of That Tom Izzo Magic

Bryan the Internover 3 years


Aritcle written by:Bryan the InternBryan the Intern
Let's assume for just a minute that Kentucky is going to make the NCAA Tournament this year.  The Cats are going to benefit from a down year in college basketball and likely still have an inside track to a spot in this year's field of 68.  If they make the tournament, though, it seems very unlikely they are going to see anything better than a 5-seed.  It's more likely they are looking at a 7-10 seed at this point given the trajectory of the season. So, how in the world could this team still make a run in the NCAA Tournament?  I say we look no further than the career of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.  Izzo has made 7 Final Fours in his time with the Spartans, but what is interesting is that 3 of those Final Fours occurred when the Spartans were a 5-seed or worse.  They have also made two additional Elite 8s as a 7-seed and 4-seed, meaning they have made the Final 8 of the Tournament 5 times as a 4-seed or worse.  Point being, Michigan State has over-performed in the tournament many, many times under Tom Izzo. How did they do it?  I think it is actually a fairly simple formula.  You need a combination of wins in 3 types of games: TOSS-UP, UPSET, and GOOD DRAW.  You will get a 50-50 game at some point, face a higher seeded team at some point, and will need the draw to fall in your favor at some point, as well.  Take a look: 2003 (19-12 Entering Tournament, #7 seed): ELITE 8 Toss-up: Beat #10 Colorado 79-64 (1st round) Upset: Beat #2 Florida 68-46 (2nd round) Good Draw: Beat #6 Maryland 60-58 (Sweet 16) 2005 (22-6 Entering Tournament, #5 seed): FINAL FOUR Good Draw: #13 Vermont 72-61 (2nd round) Upset: #1 Duke 78-68 (Sweet 16) Toss-Up: #2 Kentucky 94-88 (Elite 8) 2009 (26-6 Entering Tournament, #2 seed): FINAL FOUR Good Draw: #10 USC 74-69 (2nd Round) Toss-Up: #3 Kansas 67-62 (Sweet 16) Upset: #1 Louisville 64-52 (Elite 8) 2010 (24-8 Entering Tournament, #5 seed): FINAL FOUR Upset: #4 Maryland 85-83 (2nd round) Good Draw: #9 Northern Iowa 59-52 (Sweet 16) Toss-Up: #6 Tennessee 70-69 (Elite 8) 2014 (26-8 Entering Tournament, #4 seed): ELITE 8 Good Draw: #12 Harvard 80-73 (2nd round) Upset: #1 Virginia 61-59 (Sweet 16) 2015 (23-11 Entering Tournament, #7 seed): FINAL FOUR Toss-Up: #10 Georgia 70-63 (1st round) Upset: #2 Virginia 60-54 (2nd round) AND #3 Oklahoma 62-58 (Sweet 16) Good Draw: #4 Louisville 76-70 (Elite 8) This Kentucky team is going to need this kind of performance to save this season.  They are going to have to pull off an upset at some point.  They are going to need the draw to fall in their favor.  And they will have to win a 50-50 game, probably in the 1st round, as well.  I think Michigan State has shown that a season can be saved in 2 weeks in March.  Izzo has done it a bunch of times.  Calipari has rarely had to do it because his teams have been #1 seeds.  This year, he's going to need some of that Izzo magic to make this season a success for Cats fans.

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