The Kentucky Wildcats open play tomorrow evening in the men’s National Invitation Tournament at Robert Morris University in suburban Pittsburgh.
UK is in the NIT after losing in the quarterfinal round of its conference tournament and failing to receive an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.
UK coach John Calipari says despite that and ten other sometimes puzzling losses this season, his team has shown it is capable of playing at a high level.
“Let’s see what we want to do. Do we want to play, do we want to have pride, do we want to go forward and learn? We’ve got a young team, let’s use this as an experience. Or do we want to let go of the rope? We’re going to find out real quick on Tuesday,” Calipari said today during a conference call.
Robert Morris has a 23-10 record.
Calipari, who’s a native of the Pittsburgh area, says the Colonials are among the best three-point shooting teams in the country.
UK is a number one seed in the NIT but will have to open play on the road because Rupp Arena is being readied for NCAA regional play and there wasn’t enough time to prepare Memorial Coliseum for the game.
This is UK’s first NIT appearance since 2009, when the Wildcats, then coached by Billy Gillispie, were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Kentucky has won two NIT titles, in 1946 and 1976.
Tuesday’s tipoff in Moon Township, Pennsylvania is 7:30pm.
The NIT semifinals and finals will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Bellarmine Knights return to action Tuesday night in the men’s NCAA Division II tournament. The Knights face Drury in a third round game in Springfield, Missouri.