UK Off to Pittsburgh to Take on the Robert Morris Colonials in the NIT
It would seem that the Kentucky Wildcats will face a weird but unavoidable irony when it begins play as the overall #1 seed in the National Invitation Tournament–the NIT.
That’s a position that guarantees a home game in that tournament’s opening round. All higher seeds in NIT games get home games until the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.
But, this year, there’s a conflict and it falls right into Kentucky’s lap. Rupp Arena is not available for UK home games because Rupp is a sub-regional site for the NCAA Tournament. So Kentucky will travel to the Pittsburgh suburb of Moon Township and take on Robert Morris. And it just so happens that Moon Township is Coach John Calipari’s hometown.
It’s a bitter pill for UK fans to swallow, I would imagine.
Since Kentucky is the overall top seed for the NIT, that has to mean that it was the first team left out of the NCAA Tournament. And it’s because of that tournament that Kentucky has to play a road game in its first NIT matchup–against the Robert Morris Colonials in Pittsburgh.
So before the wailing and the gnashing of teeth begins, understand that this is a situation that could not be avoided.
Plus, you’d like to think Kentucky could win this game. However, since the ‘Cats lost Nerlens Noel back in February, they have gone 4-4. Those four losses have occurred away from Rupp Arena and they were by an average of 17 points. Plus, they were losses to teams that also missed the NCAA Tournament. And two of those teams didn’t even make the NIT cut.
In other words, the ‘Cats need shake off whatever that is that makes them fold like a cheap suit on the road. Because of their stature as a national brand name in college basketball, opponents will throw everything they have at them.
Now is not the time for Kentucky to feel so bad for missing the Big Dance that they cough up another road win. A game’s a game.
You have to give it everything you’ve got.
NOTE: First-round NIT action between Kentucky and Robert Morris will be carried live on 92.5 WBKR and wbkr.com Tuesday night at 6:30. Pre-game coverage begins at 5PM on AM1490 WOMI.