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In 2021, March Madness Took on Whole New Meaning

In 2021, March Madness Took on Whole New Meaning

by Tim Letcher

March Madness is always a busy time in the state of Kentucky. This year was no different. Actually, this year was very different, yet still extremely busy.

With UK playing almost every sport in the month of March, there was plenty to do. Yours truly had a magical trek through the month of March, as can be seen below. Linked stories are all events that covered.

Monday, March 1

March means basketball in Kentucky and even with the Cats not having their best season, there were two games remaining in the regular season. This day featured a UK men’s basketball press conference, which led to a preview of Kentucky and Ole Miss, which would be played the following day.

Tuesday, March 2

The Kentucky baseball team moved to 5-0 by topping Eastern Kentucky on this Tuesday. And that night, the UK basketball team lost at Ole Miss in the final true road game of the season.

Wednesday, March 3

The day started with an interview with UK softball freshman Erin Coffel, who, at this point in the season, was among the national leaders in many offensive categories. Kentucky baseball made it six in a row to start the season, beating Evansville later that day.

Thursday, March 4

The Kentucky women’s basketball team used a late rally to get by Florida in the SEC Tournament. UK softball won its school-record 16th straight game to start the season.

Friday, March 5

UK head coach John Calipari previewed the Cats’ home finale against South Carolina. The Kentucky women’s basketball team fell out of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament, losing to Georgia. The UK softball team remained undefeated, while the UK baseball team lost for the first time this season. Finally, the UK volleyball team showed no signs of rust, winning their 13th straight match to start the season.

Saturday, March 6

The UK men’s basketball team got a momentum-building win in the season finale at Rupp Arena, behind a big effort from Davion Mintz. The UK volleyball team continued its unbeaten run in the SEC by sweeping LSU for the second straight night. And Mason Hazelwood pitched the UK baseball team past Ball State, evening the series at one game apiece.

Sunday, March 7

The UK softball team ran its record to 19-0 by sweeping two games in Florida. The UK baseball team was victimized by one bad inning in a loss to Ball State. And divers Kyndal Knight and Danny Zhang earned bids to the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships.

Monday, March 8

Knight and Zhang were at it again, earning spots in the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships.

Tuesday, March 9

The UK baseball team got past Western Kentucky 6-5 with some timely hitting. The Kentucky basketball team was preparing for a tough task in the SEC Tournament.

Wednesday, March 10

Kentucky basketball was preparing for Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament. The UK softball team was preparing for a big weekend series at Florida. The UK track and field team was getting ready for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Thursday, March 11

Men’s basketball saw its season come to an end in a heartbreaking 74-73 loss to Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament. The UK Rifle team was preparing for the NCAA Championships. And Rhyne Howard was named second-team All-American by some media outlets.

Friday, March 12

UK Rifle’s Mary Tucker won the NCAA Smallbore championship and helped the Cats take the lead in the team competition. Kentucky pounded Georgia State 16-1 in baseball. In volleyball, third-ranked Kentucky got an outstanding match from freshman Madi Skinner in a win over Ole Miss.

Saturday, March 13

Kentucky Rifle won the NCAA Championship behind big efforts from Tucker and Will Shaner. It was the third NCAA Rifle title for head coach Harry Mullins. Track standout Abby Steiner won the 200-meter at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, where UK picked up 17 All-American honors. UK baseball used a great outing from Mason Hazelwood to blank Georgia State. Kentucky volleyball honored its seniors, then saw those same seniors lead the team to a 16th straight win.

Sunday, March 14

The ninth-ranked UK softball team topped No. 5 Florida in extra innings to move to 20-2 on the season. Kentucky baseball closed out the sweep of Georgia State with a 4-2 win.

Monday, March 15

UK football head coach Mark Stoops previewed his team’s spring practice. Softball head coach Rachel Lawson and her team were happy to be preparing for a home game after 22 straight on the road. The UK women’s basketball team found out that their NCAA Tournament will begin against Idaho State and head coach Kyra Elzy hopes her team can make a touranment run.

Tuesday, March 16

The UK football team got spring practice underway and had a first day with its new offense. Junior Riley Gaines and the UK women’s swimming team were hoping to make noise at the NCAA Championships. UK softball won its home opener over EKU behind a Mallory Peyton home run.

Wednesday, March 17

St. Patrick’s Day arrived with the third-ranked UK volleyball team preparing for a huge weekend at seventh-ranked Florida with SEC supremacy on the line. The UK women’s swimming and diving team started the NCAA Championships with a silver medal in the 800 freestyle relay.

Thursday, March 18

SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard was named a finalist for the National Player of the Year. UK women’s tennis upset nationally-ranked Texas A&M. And the UK football defense is leaning on veteran leadership.

Friday, March 19

Lauren Poole claimed a bronze medal at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship. Meanwhile, the UK women’s basketball team is taking things step by step in the NCAA Tournament. Cally Nixon and the UK gymnastics team were preparing for the SEC Championships. UK baseball used pitching and defense to beat Missouri in the SEC opener.

Saturday, March 20

The third-ranked Kentucky volleyball team bounced back in a big way with a sweep of Florida. The Kentucky women’s swimming & diving team finished 11th in the NCAA Championships, the best showing in school history. Kentucky gymnastics posted the highest score in the afternoon session at the SEC Gymnastics Championship. The UK baseball team won its second straight SEC game, this one behind a ninth-inning rally from Cam Hill. Kentucky softball swept a doubleheader from Dayton. Mark Stoops was pleased with the first week of UK’s spring football practice. The UK women’s golf team surged at the Liz Murphey.

Sunday, March 21

Blair Green came off the bench to score 10 points as the Kentucky women’s basketball team beat Idaho State in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. The UK women’s golf team finished third at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.

Monday, March 22

In the second round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament, the focus was to be on a pair of All-Americans, Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. But the game could be decided by the other players on the floor.

Tuesday, March 23

Chris Rodriguez Jr. figures to be a central part of the new offense for the Kentucky football team. The Kentucky women’s basketball team saw its season come to an end in a loss to Iowa. The Kentucky baseball team rallied with four runs in the ninth inning to beat Butler 6-5 in walk-off fashion.

Wednesday, March 24

Kentucky volleyball ran its record to 18-1 on the season behind another stellar match from Madison Lilley. Five UK gymnasts earned All-SEC honors. Track & field standout Abby Steiner remained on the watch list for the Bowerman Award.

Thursday, March 25

The UK volleyball team clinched its fourth straight SEC regular season title, but the Cats have their sights set on bigger prizes. Women’s basketball standout Rhyne Howard was named a finalist for the WBCA Wade Trophy. UK football standout Josh Paschal continued to prove that he’s ‘For the Team’. Sophomore gymnast Raena Worley was named an All-American.

Friday, March 26

The UK softball team was preparing for a big weekend against No. 4 Alabama. Diver Danny Zhang placed 20th in the NCAA national 3-meter springboard. The UK baseball team got a road win, in the rain, at Auburn.

Saturday, March 27

Legendary UK football player Howard Schnellenberger passed away. Meanwhile, current Wildcat Marquan McCall is ready for a big senior season. The UK baseball team swept a doubleheader, and a three-game series, from Auburn. Dwight St. Hillaire and Keaton Daniel set UK school records at the Weems Baskin track & field meet.

Sunday, March 28

The Kentucky softball team beat No. 4 Alabama 4-2 behind a complete-game effort from ‘Old Lady’ Autun Humes. The UK women’s tennis team upset No. 19 Tennessee on Senior Day.

Monday, March 29

The Kentucky softball team finished off a series win over No. 4 Alabama with a stirring, extra-inning comeback victory. Kentucky basketball added grad transfer Kellan Grady. UK volleyball All-Americans Gabby Curry and Madison Lilley were named finalists for the 2021 Senior CLASS award.

Tuesday, March 30

After learning from Drake Jackson, UK center Quintin Wilson is prepared to take on the center position for the Kentucky football team. The Kentucky baseball team beat Bellarmine 4-3 on this night at Kentucky Proud Park behind a solid performance from freshman Seth Logue.

Wednesday, March 31

UK Football held its annual Pro Day, where scouts from the NFL got a chance to get a closer look at some of the Cats. Women’s basketball coach Kyra Elzy was named the NCAA Rookie Coach of the Year. Men’s tennis players Liam Draxl and Gabriel Diallo were named SEC Co-Newcomers of the Week. New UK men’s basketball player Kellan Grady met the media for the first time.

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