Aaron Harrison hit this three with 2.6 seconds left in tonight’s Elite Eight contest, to beat Michigan 75-72. The Wildcats will play two-seed Wisconsin on Saturday; until then, the 19-year-old Harrison and the rest of UK’s all-freshman starting lineup are the absolute toast of Lexington.
Kentucky basketball just went through a murderer’s row to reach the Final Four, dropping three of last year’s Final Four teams — including the defending champion and tournament favorite — in the past seven days to earn a surprise spot in North Texas. Though it’s up for debate, the Wildcats road to the Final Four was likely the toughest in history.
No one felt too sorry when Kentucky received a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament two weeks ago. When you’re one of the most prestigious programs in college basketball, have one of most hyped recruiting classes in history and enter the season No. 1, there aren’t many tears shed on your behalf. But everyone knew a No. 8 seed for John Calipari’s team was a joke, especially in a stacked region like the Midwest.
Though Kentucky was a viable Final Four choice, few picked the ‘Cats to advance that far. How could you, when the team had to beat three powerhouses after a routine opening round win over Kansas State? It felt like an impossible task, but here’s how Kentucky did it:
Third-round vs. No. 1 Wichita State
The Shockers were the first 35-0 team in NCAA history and coming off an appearance in the 2013 Final Four. Their reward: A first-weekend meeting with the preseason No. 1 in Kentucky. Before tip, you could debate which team was given the rawest deal by the selection committee (even though the answer was clearly Wichita State). The game turned into the instant-classic fans were hoping for, with Kentucky escaping after a last-second shot by Wichita State rimmed out.
Regional semifinal vs. No. 4 Louisville
The only team underseeded worse than Kentucky was Louisville. The Cardinals entered the tournament as the prohibitive favorite, despite the fact that the selection committee deemed three teams in the Midwest to be better than Rick Pitino’s squad. Three! Three teams ahead of the Louisville squad that lost five games all season, each to teams in the tournament! Throw in the bitter in-state rivalry and UK-UL made Wichita State-Kentucky feel like the undercard to a title fight. Once again, the Wildcats didn’t disappoint, winning another potential classic that lived up to the hype. Aaron Harrison hit a late three-pointer to seal the game for Kentucky. Sound familiar?
Regional final vs. No. 2 Michigan
It was Kentucky’s third heavyweight bout in seven days and, once again, Aaron Harrison hit a big shot late.
Other No. 8 seeds have made the Final Four — Kentucky became the fifth. But none had to go through such a tough road to get there. http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/03/kent…aa-tournament/