Kentucky Had No Business Being in the NIT
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Tuesday night was a big night if you're a fan of Robert Morris.
The NIT is big for schools like Robert Morris -- and this is a really big deal -- but for Kentucky, this was nothing. On second thought, this was an embarrassment for a school that just stood at the top of the college basketball world only 12 months ago.
Conspiracy theorists -- and there are thousands of them in Bluegrass Country if they believe the Wildcats are being slighted -- will no doubt light up the sports talk shows, the cyberspace forums, and the local watering holes with a litany of reasons why the stars could not have aligned against them in this manner without a bit of backroom help.
First of all, the NIT committee sent Kentucky to Robert Morris. That alone should have made UK officials mad enough to decline the invitation. They are Kentucky, for goodness sakes! Do you mean to tell me Kentucky doesn't have enough pull to request that the game be played somewhere else close to Lexington?
Give me a break.
Second, the football equivalent of this situation would befor Alabama, after winning the national championship, being shipped to Shreveport to play in a bowl game the next year (and wherefor art thou, Poulin Weedeater Bowl?). John Calipari's team didn't want to be there; hell, even if Moon Township was where he was born and raised (it's just outside Pittsburgh), he didn't want to be there! The Wildcat contingent's lack of caring showed up tonight instead of its latent talent.
Kentucky got embarrassed on national television by a small Division I school that most people outside of college hockey, lacrosse, or baseball circles never heard of before. Now, give Robert Morris credit for playing the game of their lives, but come on! Kentucky's players looked like they were still stunned by their loss to Vanderbilt, who allied with Robert Morris on the ides of March to ambush the hoops version of Julius Caesar. Et tu, Colonials?
If you scan this site regularly, you'll know at least one Cat fan played the part of oracle. He had a premonition this would happen. Odds are he wasn't alone.
It might have sounded elitist on Kentucky's part to decline the NIT invitation, but perhaps that's exactly what the Wildcats should have done. Their destiny was foretold, and they still couldn't rise above it.