The University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team Extended Its National Record For Most NCAA Tournament Appearances This Year

The University of Kentucky men’s basketball program has lived in the NCAA tournament for quite a while.

Earlier this year, the team extended its national record for most NCAA Tournament appearances to a record 60, having been selected as the No. 6 seed in the East region, matching them up against No. 11 seed Providence.

The selection marked the second time the Wildcats earned the No. 6 seed in the tournament, and the first time since 1982, when they played Middle Tennessee, losing 50-44 to the Blue Raiders in the first round in Nashville.

The Wildcats ended the most recent NCAA regular season with a 21-11 record, making it the 13 times they won 20 or more games in 14 years with John Calipari as head coach. They would finish third in the Southeastern Conference with a 12-6 record. 

Aside from putting together the most March Madness appearances, Kentucky also has the record for most games played in the tournament with 184, while it ranks second all-time in tournament wins with 130. They entered this year’s tourney with a 129-53 all-time record and a winning percentage of .709 to mark the fourth-best in college history of any team to play a minimum of 20 games.

There is even more reason for optimism heading into next season as the program has secured a commitment from a top European prospect. 

Zvonimir Ivisic, one of the best players in his age group hailing from the continent, announced his commitment to Kentucky’s 2023 class just this week.

Considering the regulations of sports betting in Kentucky, an exciting horizon opens up for both bookmakers and enthusiasts alike. The arrival of the prodigious talent Zvonimir Ivisic, is expected to galvanize the already prominent University of Kentucky men’s basketball program, thereby stoking the enthusiasm of fans. As such, the intersection of these developments paints a picture of thriving activity for the state, spurred by Kentuckians eager to rally behind their flourishing team in an engaging new manner.

Betting will become legal in the state as of September. Fans will be able to place wagers from retail locations on September 7 while apps will roll out on September 28. It’s going to be an exciting time for basketball fans, who are set for an opportunity to make some cash while supporting their local team. 

As for Ivisic, the Croatian big man has expressed excitement over joining the program. 

“I got the offer for scholarship by Coach Calipari to attend the University of Kentucky,” he wrote in an Instagram Story. “I’m excited to tell that I accepted the scholarship and I will play there next season. Go Big Blue!”

“I decided to come to Kentucky because it’s the best spot in the US for talented basketball players,” he also told ESPN via said platform. “Coach Calipari is a Hall of Fame coach that sent more players to the NBA than anyone else.”

The 19-year-old is a surprising addition to the Kentucky roster and will bring much-needed experience. He played in the FIBA U20 European Championship earlier this year, where he averaged 11.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per game. 

He has also played professionally in Montenegro for two seasons, starring alongside his brother Tomislav at SC Derby. 

A significant presence in the paint, Ivisic stands at 7ft 2in and is an adept scorer around the basket while also possessing the ability to shoot from outside as he’s a three-point threat.

He is the latest international star to commit to a U.S. college, with Aday Mara, Berke Buyuktuncel and Jan Vide set to play for UCLA while Motiejus Krivas and Paulius Murauskas join Arizona from Lithuania. 

Such moves are becoming more common on the back of the introduction of NIL as players have the opportunity to earn millions of their names, image, and likeness while still in college.

Ivisic declared for the last two NBA Drafts but withdrew both times. Should he enter a third time, he will not be able to remove himself from consideration. 

This, of course, bodes well for the Wildcats, who will welcome a player who can fill the void left in their frontcourt by Aaron Bradshaw and Ugonna Onyenso, who are both injured. Bradshaw. The No. 6 prospect from the 2023 high school class, is expected to be available for the upcoming season following surgery, but he won’t be rushed back.

Onyenso, a projected first-round pick for the 2024 NBA Draft, is expected to return in September.

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