They played a sensational game that went to the wire. Big Blue Nation celebrated a big win, though it was not the kind of upset you would expect from a No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchup.
The Shockers came into the game unblemished at 35-0. They were superb on both ends of the court all season long. They received a bad break on Selection Sunday when they drew the Wildcats in the round of 32.
I said it then, and I will say it again, there is no way that Kentucky should have been a No. 8 seed. I believe the Selection Committee has to take into consideration the performance of a team down the stretch heading into the Big Dance. Kentucky matured and grew up as a team, playing closer to its potential in the SEC tournament championship loss to Florida.
The Wildcat players needed to perfom at an A-plus level, utilizing the skills and talent which was described by many as outstanding prior to their arrival. Expectations were unreal as many projected John Calipari's diaper dandies as contenders to go 40-0. That was never really close to reality.
Kentucky was up and down during the regular season, lacking any consistency whatsoever. But during the SEC tournament, the 'Cats showed glimpses of greatness that many expected.
It all materialized Sunday, as they sent the Shockers to the locker room with their first L.
Kentucky responded with a gutty performance to hold off the tenacious Shockers. But Wichita State has a lot to be proud of despite the loss. Gregg Marshall's team had a remarkable season.
The Harrison twins came through big-time, combining to score 39 big points. Julius Randle, held to two points in the first half, went to the basket often and put up 11 second-half points.
Cleanthony Early was absolutely brilliant for Wichita State, hitting long-range jumpers and driving to the basket for layups. He finished with 31 points in the defeat.
Now we have the matchup that the Selection Committee really wanted: Louisville vs. Kentucky. There will be a sea of red and blue in Indianapolis. Think that is a hot ticket now?
This should be a classic renewal of a tremendous rivalry.