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Charles Barkley thinks 1 coach is facing big pressure in NCAA Tournament

Charles Barkley holds a microphone

November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Barkley thinks one coach in particular is under major pressure to deliver in the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

Barkley was one of the studio analysts during Thursday’s NCAA Tournament coverage on CBS, and he singled out Kentucky coach John Calipari as someone who needs to make a deep run in March. Barkley suggested Calipari is still living off his 2012 title with Anthony Davis, and that expectations are too high at Kentucky for the school to tolerate another early upset.

“At some point, they’ve got to make a deep run. They can’t keep getting upset,” Barkley said. “I mean, they’re the University of Kentucky. They’re one of the greatest programs in history and Cal is a terrific coach and a good friend. But at some point, he can’t keep living off what happened during the Anthony Davis era. He’s got to go deep in this tournament at some point and this might be the year.”

Calipari has not actually reached the second weekend of the tournament since 2019, when his Wildcats made the Elite Eight. The 2020 tournament was canceled, and Kentucky missed the field completely in 2021. In 2022, they lost to 15-seed Saint Peter’s, and they fell in the second round last year against Kansas State. Th lack of tournament success has even led portions of the fanbase to start to turn against him.

The Wildcats open their 2024 tournament against Oakland on Thursday, and they would face the winner of Texas Tech-NC State if they advance. It is a draw that would certainly favor them to at least get to the Sweet 16. If they don’t, the critics are going to get very loud.


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