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NJBIZ Brackets: Last year's champ relegated to watching as Kentucky fails to qualify

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    Deana Lykins poses with her NJBIZ Brackets trophy after she won it all with Kentucky last year. This year, her Wildcats failed to make the tournament.
    Deana Lykins poses with her NJBIZ Brackets trophy after she won it all with Kentucky last year. This year, her Wildcats failed to make the tournament. - (NJBIZ file)

    Winning one championship is extremely difficult in any sport, but repeating is considered one of the biggest challenges in athletic competition. Just ask Deana Lykins.

    Last year’s NJBIZ Brackets champion and University of Kentucky grad had a tough year watching her young and inexperienced Wildcats, which failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Last year’s starting lineup, which included freshman phenom Anthony Davis, is now dispersed among NBA teams, meaning Lykins won’t be defending her crown in NJBIZ Brackets, the competition that pits Garden State executives against one another as they root on their almae maters.

    This year, Kentucky’s postseason plans included a trip to the National Invitational Tournament — or the “Not In Tournament,” as Lykins called it — in which a long run would mean Lykins could catch her team at Madison Square Garden. But those plans were not to be, as Kentucky was knocked off in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday by Robert Morris University.

    “Besides my basketball life, things are going good,” Lykins said. Just like an early tournament exit, Lykins said her new job legally representing AAA Insurance for eight states puts things in perspective.

    “It all puts New Jersey in perspective, to learn about how other states operate. Sometimes it makes us look good, sometimes it’s not as good,” said the former president of the New Jersey Insurance Council.

    Lykins said her NJBIZ Brackets championship trophy has made the move with her, but is getting kind of lonely.

    “It is definitely a prized possession. I hope one day to get another one, but it won’t be this year,” Lykins said. “I have high hopes we’ll be back … we don’t take kindly to losing.”

    Follow NJBIZ Brackets online and on Twitter @njbizbrackets.

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