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Kentucky headlines NIT field

Mar. 17, 2013 @ 11:10 PM

Kentucky, last season's national champion, headlines the list of teams set to compete in this year's NIT.

The Wildcats aren't the only SEC team snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee.

Alabama and Tennessee also missed the cut, marking the first time in 39 years that the Wildcats, Crimson Tide and Volunteers were left out of the same NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats (21-11) and Crimson Tide (21-12) are No. 1 seeds in the NIT, along with Southern Mississippi and Virginia.

The Wildcats, who struggled to live up to lofty preseason expectations, went 4-4 in their final eight games without freshman star Nerlens Noel, who had his season ended early with a knee injury that required surgery.

Kentucky, which played in the last two Final Fours under fourth-year coach John Calipari, becomes the 20th defending national champion to be left out of the NCAA tournament field and first since North Carolina in 2010.

The Wildcats will play at eighth-seeded Robert Morris on Tuesday because Rupp Arena is unavailable to the Wildcats because the second and third round of the NCAA tournament is being played there.

Alabama was likely done in by late road losses at Florida and Ole Miss -- which made a surprising run to the SEC tournament title. The Tide beat Tennessee in the conference tournament but lost a rematch with the Gators on a neutral court.

Southern Miss (25-9) lost in double overtime to Memphis in the Conference USA title game with an NCAA bid on the line. The Golden Eagles will host Charleston Southern on Wednesday.

Virginia (21-11), which was blown out by North Carolina State in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, hosts Norfolk State on Tuesday.

(u'addcomment', u'nobuy')

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