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How They Got Here: Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky’s in the Sweet 16, ho hum.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

For the sixth time in John Calipari’s eight-year tenure and the 42nd time in program history, the Kentucky Wildcats are in the Sweet 16.

When you look at the numbers like that, it seems like making the Sweet 16 isn’t a thrill anymore for Wildcats fans, however, it’s incredibly impressive to be that consistently good.

It’s even more impressive when you take into consideration that Calipari’s class is usually loaded with freshmen who are able to gel right away.

While the goal for Kentucky is to obviously advance to the Final Four (and then further), let’s take a look at how the Wildcats got here)

After rolling through their first seven games with nary a test (30.5 point average margin of victory), the Wildcats welcomed the UCLA Bruins to Rupp Arena in early December. What followed was one of the best games of the 2016-17 college basketball season. Malik Monk, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, and TJ Leaf all showcased just how fun and exciting it can be to watch (presumably) one-and-done players square off. UCLA left Rupp with a 97-92 victory.

Speaking of the Bruins, the Wildcats fact them in Friday night’s Sweet 16 game! If the game is anywhere close to the first meeting, we’re in for a treat.

Following the loss to UCLA, the Wildcats got back on track, defeating Valparaiso, Hofstra, and North Carolina before falling to Louisville in their annual showdown.

After losing to Louisville, the Wildcats lost just three more times. Those losses were to Tennessee, Kansas, and Florida.

Since the Florida loss, Kentucky has won 13 straight games. Monk and Fox have led the way throughout the season, but Bam Adebayo had been huge in the NCAA Tournament, recording double-doubles against both Northern Kentucky and Wichita State.

If the Wildcats can take down UCLA Friday night, they’ll face the winner of the Butler/North Carolina game Sunday with a Final Four berth on the line.