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John Calipari not pleased Kentucky could hit Arizona in tourney

John Calipari got the message across by relaying the facts.

The Kentucky head coach didn’t appear pleased to learn the roadmap for his Wildcats to reach the Final Four. In the South Region of the NCAA Tournament, four of the top five seeds enter on hot streaks having won their respective conference tournaments.

As he expressed in his media session on Selection Sunday, Calipari especially wasn’t happy that his No. 5-seeded Kentucky team will have to face No. 4 Arizona — a poorly-seeded one in his eyes — if UK wins its tourney-opener against Davidson and UA beats Buffalo on Thursday.

“I’m surprised they were a four (seed),” Calipari told KSTV. “How did they drop to a four? Didn’t they win their tournament? Did Davidson win their tournament? Did Virginia win their tournament? Wow. Did we win our tournament? Wow.”

Indeed, it’s a land mine for reasons beyond No. 1 overall seed Virginia, which is unanimously ranked the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll.

No. 2 seed Cincinnati has leaned on an aggressive defensive scheme, and third-seeded Tennessee saw a six-game winning streak end at the hands of Kentucky, 77-72, in the SEC Championship game.

Arizona will be a popular pick to come out of the talented field with freshman center and potential No. 1 NBA Draft pick Deandre Ayton only getting stronger as the year goes on. Ayton has scored 32 points in each of his last two games and grabbed at least 14 rebounds in wins over UCLA and USC.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas picked Arizona to reach the Sweet 16 and agrees with Calipari’s questioning of the seeding.

It is hard to fathom how the 27-7 Pac-12 champion — both in the regular season and conference tournament — can be considered the 16th-best team in the nation and a 4-seed. Did the selection committee watch Arizona play this season? Did the committee see Deandre Ayton play this season?

Calipari, whose family is close to Arizona coach Sean Miller, got his opinion out in the open. Now he’s just accepting about the challenge ahead.

“Now it’s been thrown at us,” Calipari said. “You’re not advancing — everything we can throw in front of you, we are. Have at it. And what’s better than that? At the end of the day, everybody’s got to play basketball games. I like my team. Let’s go see what we are.”