LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky has been selected for its nation-leading 49th appearance in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, earning a No. 11 seed, and will face sixth-seeded Marquette Thursday in Anaheim, Calif. UK will be making its 17th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky (18-12, 12-4 SEC) faces Marquette (24-9, 11-7 Big East) in the first round of the South Region. Marquette and the Wildcats have faced off 13 times since 1938, with UK owning a 7-6 record over the Golden Eagles. Their last seven meetings have come in the NCAA Tournament. Marquette is UK’s most-played NCAA Tournament foe. The Cats are 4-5 against Marquette in the NCAAs, and the Wildcats have lost two-straight NCAA Tournament games vs. the Golden Eagles (1994 and 2003).
In the last meeting between the two teams, Marquette toppled the top-seeded Wildcats in 2003 Elite Eight, 83-69. Behind a triple-double from Dwyane Wade and a 24-point, 15-rebound game from Robert Jackson the Golden Eagles upset the No. 1 overall seeded Wildcats.
A member of the Big East Conference, Marquette is coming off a 68-61 loss to Pitt in the second round of the conference tournament. Marquette is led by Jerel McNeal’s 14.3 ppg, who is one of four Golden Eagles to average double-figure points, including Dominic James (13.0 ppg), Lazar Hayword (13.0 ppg) and Wesley Matthews (11.2 ppg).
UK owns a 162-67 record all-time vs. members of the Big East Conference.
Opposite UK in the pod in Anaheim are No. 3 Stanford (26-7) and No. 14 Cornell (22-5). Memphis checks in as the top-ranked team in the South bracket, highlighted by No. 2 Texas, No. 8 Mississippi State, No. 9 Oregon, No. 5 Michigan State, No. 4 Pitt, and No. 7 Miami (Fla.).
The winners of the two first-round games meet on Saturday, with a trip to the Sweet 16 in Houston on the line.
Kentucky has won seven national championships, been to 13 Final Fours and 28 Elite Eights. Last year, the Wildcats earned an eight seed, beating Villanova before suffering a loss to No. 1 seeded Kansas. UK ranks as the NCAA leader in NCAA Tournament appearances (49), games (141) and wins (98).UK’s 17 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is the fifth-longest streak in tournament history, and the third-longest active streak behind Arizona (24 years) and Kansas (19 years).
The top-four seeds included overall No. 1 North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas and UCLA.
The SEC garnered six overall seeds, with Tennessee earning the top SEC seed, a No. 2 seed in the East bracket. Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and SEC Tournament Champion Georgia each earned berths.
The Wildcats No. 11 seed is the second-lowest seed in UK’s history, second only to a No. 12 seed, earned in 1985. This is the first ever No. 11 seed for the Wildcats.
The tournament culminates with the Final Four, which will be held in San Antonio, Texas, April 5-7.