John Calipari Kentucky s John Calipari talks Thursday afternoon at Greensboro Coliseum.March 16, 2023 Practice 19

The expectations are clear for the Kentucky Wildcats and head coach John Calipari: win NCAA Tournament games and compete for national championships. And it’s pretty clear that the team hasn’t been doing that in recent seasons.

The Wildcats have not won an NCAA Tournament game since the 2018-19 season. But heading into this year’s NCAA Tournament, John Calipari acknowledges there are always “butterflies,” but revealed that he’s trying to keep his focus on this year’s tournament.

“Every coach in this tournament has butterflies,” Calipari said. “Whether they lost last year or they won the whole tournament or they’re in the Final Four, they have butterflies. Their teams have butterflies. That’s part of what this is. I want this team to fully experience the NCAA tournament. Not deal with, well, what if and they’re saying this and that. No.”

Calipari said that he’s working hard to make sure that the players aren’t affected by the added pressure.

“My job is to shield them from all that stuff and make sure this is an experience that you go through that you’re fortunate to be in this and really enjoy the experience,” Calipari said. “Don’t listen to all the outside voices and — it doesn’t matter. You play the games. You play the games.

“What anybody says and, again, my job is to shield them from all that. The problem is some of them have phones, and they’ll read some of the stuff, and you try to tell them, it makes no difference what anybody says. You still play the games.”

The Wildcats open the NCAA Tournament on Friday night against the Providence Friars.