Cats Face Villanova in NCAA Opener

LEXINGTON -- Kentucky earned its 16th consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament, earning the No. 8 seed in the West Region, when the tournament bracket was announced Sunday evening.

The Wildcats will face ninth-seeded Villanova in the first round on Friday at the United Center in Chicago. The winner of that game meets the winner between Kansas and opening round game winner on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday’s bid is the 48th all time for Kentucky, which is an NCAA record. The 16th-straight appearance is the third longest active streak in the nation. Arizona has the longest run with 23 consecutive trips and Kansas is second at 18 straight.

Kentucky has won seven national championships, been to 13 Final Fours and 28 Elite Eights.

Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith is making his 13th straight appearance in the tournament and has the sixth best winning percentage in the tournament among active coaches with a 27-11 mark. He led UK to the 1998 national championship in his first year with UK.