K-State looks to take the 'Cat-lanta' crown from Kentucky
Kentucky should feel right at home in Atlanta, also known in basketball circles as "Cat-lanta." The city has been the site of some of the greatest moments in the school's storied history.
This time, though, they aren't the only Wildcats in town. These 'Cats exceeded almost all expectations — at least, those outside Manhattan — by finishing fourth in arguably the toughest conference in the country, despite playing much of the season without injured guard Kamau Stokes.
Unfortunately, a fan could call the Georgia Dome "My Old Kentucky Home." Big Blue had a record of 26-6 there. It was a longtime home of the Southeastern Conference Tournament and also hosted the NCAA South Regional in 2012, when the Cats beat Indiana and Baylor on the way to their most recent national championship.
Kansas State coach Bruce Weber is back in the Sweet 16 with his third school. He guided Southern Illinois to the regional semifinals in 2002, and made another appearance with Illinois in 2005 on the way to the national championship game, where the Illini lost to North Carolina.
Kentucky is following its usual one-and-done philosophy that has worked so well for coach John Calipari, sending out a lineup with five freshman starters who are merely stopping by Lexington on their way to the NBA. Kevin Knox is averaging 15.7 points per game, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander chips in with 14.4 points and 5.1 assists.
"My challenge is making sure these kids don't drink that poison, that poison being that we have an easy road. There are no easy roads in this tournament. If they drink that poison, we'll be done Thursday." — Calipari, on the perception that his team should cruise to the Final Four in a region where the top four seeds were eliminated on the first weekend.
“Been a long time coming, and it’s surreal to be in a position that we are, but I mean, we put the work in. We deserve it. We’re going to show what we can do,” Kansas State guard Barry Brown Jr. said.