Kentucky coach John Calipari, whose team is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, has plenty of empathy for Drexel.
Calipari is close friends with Drexel coach Bruiser Flint, his former assistant who replaced him as head coach at the University of Massachusetts.
So with that background, we got on a conference call and asked Calipari his opinion on Drexel’s snub, and his reaction was not surprising.
“I was really disappointed,” Calipari said “I thought the St. Bonaventure game really hurt them.”
The NCAA selection committee said on Sunday evening that Oral Roberts, Nevada, Miami and Drexel, Seton Hall and Mississippi State were the last six teams considered. It is unclear what order the teams were in.
One of those six would have been in had St. Bonaventure not won the Atlantic-10 tournament, thus earning the league’s fourth spot.
Many fans of teams they felt should have earned a berth are criticizing the inclusion of Iona into the field and Calipari led the chorus.
“I don’t know how Iona gets in instead of Drexel,” he said. “I was really disappointed.”
Calipari even talked about Drexel’s comeback that just came short in the Colonial Athletic Association championship, a 59-56 loss to VCU at the Richmond Coliseum. Drexel overcame a 16- point halftime deficit and missed a last-second three-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime.
“They even came back in a game on a neutral court which was basically a home game for VCU, had a chance to win after being down 16,” Calipari said. “I don’t know what else you have to do.”
Calipari said he talked to Flint on Sunday night and no doubt he expressed these opinions.
“I am disappointed because they deserved it, the program deserved it and I hope they have a great run in the NIT,” Calipari said.