Kentucky's TJ Beisner says 'pain' from loss to St. Peter in NCAA 'doesn't go away'
May 16, 2022
Almost two months have passed since the Kentucky Wildcats lost to Saint Peter's in the NCAA Tournament's Round of 64. TJ Beisner, the team's director of player development, expressed his regret on Twitter during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After watching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs between Toronto and Tampa Bay, he expressed his regret for not being able to lead his team to triumph in the NCAA basketball tournament.
"Watching Game 7 of this Tampa-Toronto series and can't stop thinking about our team last year and how I'd do anything for another shot at that win-or-go-home tournament," Beisner wrote on Twitter. "Loved those dudes and know we could've done something special. The pain doesn't go away."
Kentucky as top-seeded team
Since the KenPom system was introduced in 2001, only three times has any team that entered the tournament as the best regular-season team ever won the national title. Since the NCAA started ranking the tournament's top seeds in 2003, only the No. 1 overall seed has won the tournament on three occasions.
In 2021, the Kentucky Wildcats were not considered the best regular-season team in the country. However, they still defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels in the national championship game. The Wildcats defeated North Carolina by 18 points in Lawrence and 29 points on a neutral court.
Despite their different rankings, North Carolina and Kansas improved significantly from their early-season performances. According to data collected by BartTorvik.com, the Kansas Jayhawks were the best team in the country from February 1. On the other hand, the Wildcats were ravaged by injuries during January.
Despite the various injuries that the Wildcats suffered during the season, their loss to Saint Peter's in the NCAA Tournament's Round of 64 was still considered a significant loss. According to data analysis firm Shot Quality, the game outcome was a 2-in-100 chance that happened. Based on the way the two teams played, it was almost certain that Kentucky would win the game.
In March Madness, a top-seeded team can lose its first-round game in the NCAA Tournament. However, if the Wildcats were allowed to play in a best-of-seven series instead, they would have easily defeated the Peacocks.
Kentucky's elite recruiting is changing
Despite being one of the top recruiting classes in the country during the past couple of years, Kentucky could not avoid an upset by a 15th-seeded team to start the NCAA tournament. Kentucky still managed to win its remaining games and secured the NCAA championship title despite the loss.
During the spring, the team's approach to roster management revealed a shift in its recruitment strategy. For the first time since Sports247 started ranking the recruiting classes in 2011, Kentucky did not finish in the top two.
The team's 2022 recruiting class still features several five-star prospects, such as Chris Livingston and Cason Wallace. However, it could not sign a player who could immediately replace Shaedon Sharpe, a late bloomer in the program. Instead, the Wildcats focused on securing a player who could develop into a long-term contributor in the next couple of years.
The team's biggest off-season move was to retain the services of versatile forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who could become the best big man in the country next season. It also signed Antonio Reeves, a transfer from Illinois State. Reeves averaged 20 points per game last season.