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March Madness: A look at UK's disappointing recent NCAA tournament history after its shocking loss to Oakland

Kentucky’s shocking upset loss to No. 14 Oakland was the Wildcats’ second first-round loss in the last three NCAA tournaments.

The No. 3 Wildcats were a popular Final Four pick ahead of this year's March Madness. Instead, Kentucky is out on the tournament’s first weekend for the third consecutive time and is approaching a decade since its last Final Four appearance.

In 2012, the Wildcats won the national title in coach John Calipari’s third season. That title felt like the first of many. Kentucky had been to at least the Elite Eight in each of Calipari’s first three seasons in Lexington and had been a No. 1 seed twice.

Instead, Kentucky missed the tournament in 2013 before a surprising run to the national title game in 2014 as a No. 8 seed. In 2015, the Wildcats lost in the Final Four as a No. 1 seed.

Kentucky hasn't made a Final Four since the 2015 season as the Wildcats are out of March Madness in the first round for the second time in three seasons. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Kentucky hasn't made a Final Four since the 2015 season as the Wildcats are out of March Madness in the first round for the second time in three seasons. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Since then, Kentucky hasn’t made the Final Four or even been a No. 1 seed. It’s been a remarkable dip for a program that has eight national titles and 17 Final Four appearances; will Calipari have the chance to break the streak next year? His future with the Wildcats is set to be one of the biggest storylines in college basketball in the coming days.

Here’s how Kentucky has done in the NCAA tournament since its last Final Four in 2015. It isn’t pretty.

2016

  • 27-9, No. 4 seed, eliminated in second round

The Wildcats had a team that featured Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray and diminutive sophomore Tyler Luis. After beating No. 13 Stony Brook in the first round of the tournament, the Wildcats lost 73-67 to No. 5 Indiana in the second round.

2017

  • 32-6, No. 2 seed, eliminated in Elite Eight

With Murray off to the NBA, Kentucky boasted a freshman trio of Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo. The Wildcats played to their seed in this tournament as they beat Northern Kentucky in the first round, squeaked past Wichita State in the second round and beat No. 3 UCLA in the Sweet 16. Their tournament run came to an end in the Elite Eight as Luke Maye hit a shot with 0.3 seconds left to give No. 1 North Carolina a 75-73 win.

2018

  • 26-11, No. 5 seed, eliminated in Sweet 16

Another wave of NBA-bound freshman led this team with Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PJ Washington and Hamidou Diallo all averaging at least 10 points per game. Kentucky beat No. 12 Davidson by five in the first round and blew out No. 13 Buffalo in the second round before a three-point upset loss to No. 9 Kansas State in the Sweet 16.

2019

  • 30-7, No. 2 seed, eliminated in Elite Eight

Kentucky played to its seed again in 2019, but was favored in the Elite Eight against No. 5 Auburn. The Wildcats won their second- and third-round games by a combined 10 points before losing 77-71 to the Tigers in overtime. Auburn guards Jared Harper and Bryce Brown combined for 50 points in that game as Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro were a combined 8-of-24 from the field for the Wildcats.

2020

  • 25-6, no NCAA tournament (COVID-19)

2021

  • 9-16, missed NCAA tournament

The Wildcats lost six consecutive games after opening the season with a win and were never above .500 after their second game of the season.

2022

  • 26-8, No. 2 seed, eliminated in first round

The Wildcats were the victims of one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history two seasons ago when No. 15 Saint Peter’s beat Kentucky 85-79 in overtime in the first round of the tournament. Doug Edert tied the game for the Peacocks with 24 seconds to go in the second half before Kentucky was outscored 9-3 over the final 1:45 of overtime. Saint Peter’s went on to win two more games before losing to North Carolina in the Elite Eight.

2023

  • 22-12, No. 6 seed, eliminated in second round

This Kentucky team was led by three seniors in double-double machine Oscar Tshiebwe, Antonio Reeves and Jacob Toppin. The Wildcats went 12-6 in the SEC but lost their first SEC tournament game by seven to Vanderbilt. That was a sign of things to come in the NCAA tournament. After beating No. 11 Providence by eight, Kentucky again lost to Kansas State in the NCAA tournament. The No. 3 Wildcats got 27 points from Markquis Nowell in a 75-69 win.

2024

  • 23-9, No. 3 seed, eliminated in first round

Reeves used his extra season of eligibility to return for the 2023-24 season and was joined by freshmen Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard and D.J. Wagner. The Wildcats were the second-highest scoring team in college basketball this season at 89.4 points per game but allowed nearly 80 points per game. Only 18 teams allowed more points than Kentucky did. That was a bad omen for the postseason as Kentucky lost 97-87 to Texas A&M to open the SEC tournament and gave up 10 3-pointers to Oakland’s Jack Gohlke in an 80-76 loss.