Robert Morris defeats defending National Champion, Kentucky 59-57 in the first round of the 2013 NIT.
That was the headline Kentucky fans were forced to endure after one of the most embarrassing losses the Cats had suffered since losing to Gardner-Webb at Rupp Arena. It was difficult to deal with, everywhere you turned, they were talking about it.
Now, fast forward about eight months and the roles are somewhat reversed. RMU heads into Rupp Arena Sunday night to take on one of the most talented Kentucky teams in recent memory. Calipari said "We didn't schedule Robert Morris for revenge", but that's exactly what Kentucky fans want. They know that loss in the NIT was a complete fluke and should have never happened and they would love nothing more than to watch as the Cats completely dismantle this team as they should have done eight months ago.
Usually I give a run down on some history of the next opponent because sometimes fans don't know a lot about that particular team (especially early in the schedule), but unfortunately this time around, we know more about Robert Morris than we care to. Regardless, here is the rundown that your accustomed to just in case you have blocked that loss from your memory like I have done, it never happened….
ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY
LOCATION: Moon Township, Pennsylvania (also the home town of John Calipari)
CONFERENCE: North East Conference
HEAD COACH: Andrew Toole (the youngest head coach in NCAA Division 1 at 29 years old)
RMU hasn't done too bad when it comes to facing big opponents on big stages losing a couple of close games to some some pretty big names. They have made the NCAA Tournament 7 times in school history with their last trip coming in 2010 when they came up short against Villanova in the first round by a score of 73-70 in overtime.
They have won their conference tournament championship also 7 times with the last one coming in 2010 and have won the regular season championship 10 times with the last one coming in 2013.
The Colonials have an NIT record of 1-2 with their only win coming last season when they defeated Kentucky in the first round. An interesting side note, RMU almost had their first win in the NIT in 2008 when Syracuse narrowly pulled out a 87-81 win over the Colonials.
By looking at that, this team over the years hasn't been as bad as some might have thought. Just because they are a team that almost no one has heard of doesn't mean they can't play.
Sunday will make the third time these two teams have met on the hardwood and the record is even at 1-1. We all know about the last meeting and how that turned out, but what you may not know about (or maybe you do) is the first meeting the Cats and the Colonials had. It was in 1993 with the Cats winning going away 92-67, let's hope for the same outcome tomorrow night.
After the Michigan State game I heard a lot of grumbling from Kentucky fans about the performance in the first half. This team is dominated by freshman and it was the second game of the season against a veteran, Tom Izzo coached team so nerves was/ should have been expected. Even when the Spartans rushed out to a 10-0 lead early in the first half I never once thought Kentucky would lose by more than five or six points.
I agree, the first half was ugly and had it not been for the outside shooting of James Young, it would have been a lot uglier. But, what you saw in the second half is what you can expect going forward once all the kinks get worked out of a very young team. There is so much talent on this team it's kind of ridiculous to think about it.
Tomorrow night against Robert Morris, Kentucky has got to get off to a good start in the first half for once. It's what killed them early against MSU and it's what will kill them going forward if it's not corrected. They can't have senseless turnovers or defensive break downs because we seen what happened Tuesday night when guys don't get back on defense against quality teams.
In the end, I think Kentucky wins this game by a wide margin and erases the bad memories of the first half against MSU and more importantly, the bad memories from last years NIT loss.