OPINION | WALLY HALL: Kentucky deserves better than ‘Kalipari’

The front of the Lexington Herald Leader claimed John Kalipari should not be fired.

Yes, they spelled his name with a K, as in Kentucky, and said that his buy-out is $33 million.

John Calipari is 1-3 in the last three NCAA Tournaments and Kentucky fans want, and deserve, better than being the laughing stock No. 3 seed that lost to No. 14 seed Oakland.

Kentucky was the only No. 3 seed to lose its first game, although the Baylor Bears fell to No. 6 Clemson in their second-round game.

Former Kentucky Coach Rick Pitino made headlines after St. John's didn't make the NCAA Tournament and he declared the season was over and his team would not play in the NIT.

St. John's finished fifth in the Big East and fourth place finisher Seton Hall didn't make it either.

Now that the first and second rounds are completed, Pitino was right, the Big East deserved more than three teams playing for the national championship.

UConn, Marquette and Creighton all advanced to the Sweet 16 and the Huskies, the No. 1 overall seed, were basically unchallenged winning by 39 and 17 points.

The ACC got five bids and is 8-1, with the only loss being an embarrassing one by Virginia to Colorado State 67-42 in the First Four.

The Sweet 16 is fairly chalky with all four No. 1 and 2 seeds advancing as well as two Nos. 3, 4 and 5. Clemson made a strong impression with its wins over New Mexico and Baylor, and No. 11-seed North Carolina State is the only Cinderella still dancing.

However, if not for couple of bad calls Samford might have beaten Kansas in the opening round and Oakland would have a shot to make the Sweet 16.

Samford, a No. 13 seed, trailed Kansas 90-89 with 14 seconds left when Nicolas Timberlake, who is 6-foot-4, fielded a long pass that beat Bulldogs' strong press, dribbled once, stepped twice and leaped up to score.

From behind, 6-5 A.J. Staton-McCray flew in. He crossed behind Timberlake, lunged upward and blocked the shot. Timberlake crashed to the floor, which made it seem like a real foul. Staton-McCray immediately protested the call, and the crowd agreed.

Instead of setting up for a game-winning play, Samford watched when Timberlake made two free throws while the TV cameras replayed a clear block.

The other outrageous bad call cost was against Oakland in its second game. With just under two seconds to play it appeared the Golden Grizzlies, the giant (Kentucky) slayer, had suffered a turnover, but the TV replays showed what appeared to have been a been a bad pass had actually hit the pinkie of a North Carolina State player.

Everyone in the arena and watching on TV saw it. The referees did not, and instead gave the ball to NC State. In overtime Oakland had little fight left and lost 79-73.

A win might have made Kentucky fans feel a little better. Just a little. A poorly called game that will be forgotten because the team won who couldn't catch a break.

Houston, a No. 1 seed, had four starters foul out and a fifth had four fouls as Texas A&M made 29 of 45 free throws to the Cougars' 21 of 30, and 12 of those attempts came when the Aggies were forced to foul with 1:38 to play and in overtime.

It was either a bad matchup for the Cougars or they aren't as good as anticipated.

Houston ended up winning 100-95 in overtime and caught a big break with their next game in the South Regional being in Dallas. The Cougars will take on Duke, which beat a No. 12 and No. 13 seed.

It is a record 45th consecutive time the ACC has had at least one team in the Sweet 16.

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