Kentucky football earns top seed, NCAA tournament home court

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Kentucky’s men’s soccer program continues to make history in the 2022 season, this time with an eye on playoff success.

The Wildcats – the only undefeated team left in Division I men’s college football — were awarded the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament on Monday, setting up to three NCAA Tournament games in Lexington in the coming weeks.

As the first seed, Kentucky – which won both the Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament championships – is positioned to host Round of 16, Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matches at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex.

The College Cup, which includes the national semi-finals and the national championship game, will take place in early December at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.

Kentucky has compiled a 14-0-5 record (WLD) this season, including his three-game run to the Sun Belt Tournament title last week.

Kentucky previously played in C-USA, before moving to the Sun Belt Conference during the offseason.

Great Britain will start the NCAA tournament in the Round of 16 at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Bell Soccer Complex against South Florida (8-6-4) or Hofstra (14-3-3), who meet on Thursday.

Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament best performance came 2018, when the Cats reached the Elite Eight for the first and only time before losing at home to Maryland.

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Kentucky players celebrate after winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship and automatic league bid for the NCAA Tournament at the Bell Football Complex in the UK on Sunday. British athletics

Kentucky will face South Florida or Hofstra in the Round of 16

Kentucky’s path to the College Cup will pass through Lexington, but it won’t be without challenges for head coach Johan Cedergren’s team.

For starters, the UK will host South Florida or Hofstra on Sunday.

South Florida reached the American Athletic Conference Tournament title game and scored a breakthrough regular season win over Tulsa, a team that held the United Kingdom to a tie.

The Bulls aren’t scoring much, registering just 24 goals in 18 appearances this season. But South Florida also allowed just 24 goals, with senior redshirt goaltender Jackson Weyman playing all 18 games and recording four shutouts.

Hofstra won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Championship to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament field.

Pride boasts a pair of double-digit scorers in junior forward Ryan Carmichael (10 goals) and sophomore midfielder Eliot Goldthorp (15 goals). In total, Hofstra has scored 42 goals this season (an average of 2.1 goals per game).

Looking further into the future, a potential matchup with Louisville could await Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

UK beat the U of L, 3-2, in a thrilling September game in Lexington.

The other seeded teams in the British quadrant of the NCAA Tournament bracket are Oregon State’s No. 8, Lipscomb’s No. 9 and Akron’s No. 16.

Kentucky defeated Lipscomb, 3-2, in September at Lexington.

The top four seeds in the field are No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 Washington, No. 3 Syracuse and No. 4 Virginia.

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Kentucky senior forward Eythor Bjorgolfsson (9) will sit out the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament opener after being shown a red card in Sunday’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game. Silas Walker [email protected]

UK will enter NCAA Tournament without top scorer

Kentucky will be without its top scorer for its Round of 16 game against South Florida or Hofstra.

Senior Striker Eythor Bjorgolfsson (10 goals) received a red card for violent conduct in the Sun Belt Tournament UK Championship win over James Madison on Sunday. Bjorgolfsson will serve a one-game suspension at the opener of the NCAA Tournament in the UK.

Attacking versatility, however, has been England’s calling card this season.

Excluding Bjorgolfsson, four Wildcats have scored five or more goals this season. Senior midfielder Nick Gutmann is the NCAA Division I men’s soccer leader in assists (16), and Kentucky’s 2.53 goals per game average is one of the top six nationally.

Additionally, the Cats rank ninth nationally in shots on goal per game with 7.37.

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Kentucky’s Casper Grening runs a trio of West Virginia defenders to the ball at the United Kingdom’s Bell Football Complex during last week’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Eddie Justice British athletics

UK Set to Host Throughout NCAA Tournament

Last season, Kentucky received the No. 9 seed for the NCAA Tournament.

The cats defeated Santa Clara home before losing to eventual national champions Clemson on a late goal in the Sweet 16.

Because the UK was the No. 9 seed, the Cats had to travel to the Tigers (the No. 8 seed overall) for this game.

Playing a real road game in the NCAA Tournament won’t be something the UK will have to worry about this season.

The last time a No. 1 seed overall won the NCAA Tournament was in 2011, when North Carolina accomplished the feat.

The 2022 NCAA Tournament will mark Kentucky’s 12th National Playoff appearance. Nine of those appearances (including this season) have come under Cedergren.

This story was originally published November 14, 2022 2:42 p.m.

Cameron Drummond works as a sports reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader with a focus on Kentucky men’s basketball recruiting and the UK men’s basketball team, horse racing, football and others sports in central Kentucky. Drummond is a first-generation American who was born and raised in Texas, before graduating from Indiana University. He is fluent in Spanish and previously worked as a community journalist in Austin, Texas.

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