Kentucky Wildcats guard Rob Dillingham (0) questions a foul call on him against Texas A&M during their SEC Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 15, 2024.at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 15, 2024.

Kentucky Kicks Off March Madness Against Oakland

The South Region’s No. 3 seed Kentucky Wildcats and No. 14 seed Oakland Golden Grizzlies face off for their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night at 7:10 at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA.

Over the course of the tournament’s history, No. 14 seeds have gone just 22-130 against No. 3 seeds in the opening round. Only two No. 14 seeds (Cleveland State ’86, Chattanooga ’97) have ever made it to the second weekend of the tournament.

Eyes on the Underdog

Making their fourth tournament appearance, the Grizzlies hope to advance past the round of 64 for the first time. Oakland won its play-in game back in 2005, but have lost three consecutive round of 64 games. This is Oakland’s first visit to the NCAA Tournament since its back-to-back appearances in 2010 and 2011.

This season, the Grizzles won six-of-eleven games where they have been the underdog.

In their last 10 games, the Grizzlies have put up an average of 78.6 points per game. Meanwhile, Kentucky averaged 88.8 points over its last 10 games.

Responding to Defeat

The Wildcats fizzled out of the SEC Tournament in their first game, falling far short of the hopes in Lexington.

However, Kentucky has shown its ability to bounce back after a loss this season. Following a loss to LSU in February, the No. 11 Wildcats went on a five-game winning streak, taking down ranked opponents Alabama and Tennessee. Similarly, in December, Kentucky lost to UNC Wilmington and took down its next six opponents in a row, including No. 5 UNC.

The Wildcats remain the second highest-scoring team in the nation and have the highest three-point shooting percentage in the NCAA.

Kentucky has not made it past the Sweet 16 since 2019.

Tipoff is set for 7:10 on Thursday night. The winner of Kentucky vs Oakland will take on the winner of No. 6 Texas Tech and No. 11 NC State in the round of 32 on Saturday.

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