The Wildcats (31-2) received the overall No. 1 seed and will compete in the South Regional, but the road back to New Orleans won't be an easy task. Kentucky, which plays the winner of Tuesday's first-round encounter between Western Kentucky University and Mississippi Valley State, could face defending national champion Connecticut in the third round, followed by potential matchups against Indiana and Duke in the regional semifinals and finals at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
“That's what was expected,” Calipari said. “The first game will be hard, the second game will be like a war, if your lucky enough to move on from there, it's one team after another. If that's our region, that's OK. It's all hard and none of this (is going to be easy). You'll be lucky to win.
“Only thing I was happy about, I heard they were trying to get an exemption for the (Miami) Heat to be a second seed on our bracket. They weren't allowed to get them in there, too.”
Calipari will give Kentucky Monday off to recover and “get their senses back” following a three-game grind in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Wildcats concluded the tournament with a 71-64 loss to Vanderbilt Sunday in New Orleans.
“I don't know if it's right or wrong, but I'm thinking three games in three days . … we really don't need to do anything (Monday),” Calipari said.
Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis is ready to push the reset button following the loss to the Commodores and embraces the opportunity to compete for a national championship. Davis added that he was “very anxious” on the flight back to Lexington to watch a delayed telecast of the Selection Show from Calipari's residence.
“We're happy to be a No. 1 seed,” he said. “We've got to get ready and prepare for the tournament and take our minds off (the loss to Vandy) after we watch film and look at what we did wrong and prepare for the tournament. I'm anxious to see how it all happens.”
Davis has his fingers crossed for a potential rematch against Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen in Atlanta. The Hoosiers defeated the Cats 73-72 on Dec. 10 in Bloomington. Davis added that he wouldn't mind taking on Duke in the regional finals.
“They're two great teams and we definitely want to play them,” Davis said. “We'll have to see how it all plays out.”
Kentucky senior Darius Miller will be making his third appearance in the tournament and knows what to expect this time around as the team's most experienced player going into the prestigious event.
“There's a lot of good teams out there, a lot of good teams in our bracket and we've got to come out and be ready to go,” he said. “Every team has a chance and we've got to go out and do our part, so we'll have a chance at the end.”
Miller added that getting the overall No. 1 seed “is a big accomplishment” for the Wildcats, but added that he is aware it doesn't guarantee tournament success.
“It's something I've never experienced and that feels pretty good,” he said. “I know how tough the road is going to be. We've got a lot of good teams in this tournament – the best of the best and we're going to have to be ready to go.”
Davis likes the idea of playing the second and third rounds at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, which he said gives the Wildcats an advantage playing in their own home state.
“It's going to be like a home game for us,” he said.
Calipari is ready to take a shot at winning the school's eighth national title and feels the same way he did about last year's squad going into the Big Dance.
“I've got a good team (and) I'm ready to get to work,” he said.