NCAA Tournament Must Go On (247sports.com)

As Kentucky coach

watched his former players go in Wednesday night’s NBA Draft, he thought about the mental taxing they’ve all gone through. And he said that was part of what was tough with his current players: the inability to form a suitable support network.

There’s anxiety with all this,” Calipari said on the Paul Finebaum Show. “And that’s where companionship and relationships and hanging together, they’re losing all that right now because we’ve got to keep them safe.”

That anxiety is also why Calipari said college basketball needs to have an NCAA Tournament this year. When asked about how important it was for the sport to have the tournament this year, Calipari turned the question on its head.

How about how important it is to the kids to play in it? They didn’t play last year. To take it away for two years—we have to play that tournament,” Calipari said. “Even if we have a shortened season and my guess is, there will be some interruptions. There were in football. There’ll be some interruptions. But we’ve got to count on the selection committee to get 68 teams. We have to count on the NCAA, when we all go to — we’re saying Indianapolis, or somewhere — where it’s almost like the old NAIA tournament. You remember? Thirty-two teams would go to Kansas City or wherever they’d go, and if you lost, you went home. Next round, you lost, you went home, we’re at eight. Next round, you lost, you went home, we’ve got four. And they’re going to do it there, where they’re different courts and it narrows down to four courts to two courts and then to [a] Final Four court.”

Calipari said it would likely come with limited fans, but said that in whatever format, ending the season with a proper tournament would be necessary.

“Because the tournament has to be played for these kids,” Calipari said. “For them.”

Calipari has made comments like those in the past, and they echo those made by some of the sport’s other top coaches like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.

“We need to have the tournament,” Krzyzewski said this summer. “We can’t have it where two years in a row you don’t have the NCAA tournament.”

“That’s where you should start,” Krzyzewski said. “Make sure we have the tournament—doesn’t make any difference when it is because we don’t even know when the NBA season will be next year.”

And while there could be what Calipari called “interruptions,” — college basketball is sure to face its fair share of postponements and even cancelations, as college football has — finding a way to come together for one of the world’s greatest sporting events could make the season a success.



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