Allstate Journal

Kentucky survives massive scare vs. Notre Dame to reach Final Four

Breaking down No. 1 seed Kentucky’s 68-66 victory against No. 3 seed Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional final at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

Quite simply, given everything at stake, this was nothing less than one of the greatest games — and almost one of the greatest upsets — in NCAA tournament history. Even when so many things didn’t go its way, Kentucky’s grit showed again, coming back from 61-56 down at the five-minute mark. Tension-filled possession after tension-filled possession, Kentucky got better shots down the stretch — making its final nine field goal attempts (the Wildcats’ last miss came with 12:05 left) — and won on Andrew Harrison’s free throws with six seconds remaining.

John Calipari has left national championships on the table before. One slipped away at Memphis, for sure. His 2010 team with John Wall was the heavy favorite going into the tournament. Once the Wildcats got to the final last year, another one was there for the taking against UConn. But this would have been the all-time disappointment: Kentucky, after going 37-0, not even making the Final Four.

Instead, the Wildcats got 25 points from freshman Karl-Anthony Towns, who had played poorly in the tournament, to send them to their fourth Final Four in the past five years. For Notre Dame, making the Final Four for the first time since 1978 would have been sweet. To do it by knocking out the unbeaten Wildcats would have been remembered forever. Still, this season and run to the Elite Eight was a wild success for the Fighting Irish.

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