Before we get into the linkage, for those who like losing money the spread for today’s epic matchup now has UK as 8.5 point favorites. Ohio State is a 3.0 favorite.
Also, if you aren’t in New Orleans the best place to be to watch the game will be the Sports and Social Club at Fourth Street Live! Their TV selection is absolutely legit and they will have 32 oz. Bud/Bud Light for just $8. They’ll also have some specials on some Red and Blue shots. We’ll be giving away koozies and t-shirts along with these sweet ass posters. If you want a poster, shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] and we’ll get you one for just $5 which covers the shipping.
As you know, the Cards and Cats are the talk of the town. Every time you turn on ESPN they are talking about the big game and it’s pretty cool to see the National media so entrenched with the rivalry that we are all so familiar with. This IS the best rivalry in college basketball. I don’t care what anyone says. Duke and North Carolina play 27 times a year. Kentucky and Louisville play once. One time that’s it. And that is what makes tonight so cool. Oh, and the winner goes on to the National Championship.
New Orleans is going to be nuts. The Sports and Social Club will be nuts. The city of Louisville will be nuts. The state of Kentucky is going to be nuts.
It’s going to be fun. Now to the links.
Everyone’s favorite journalist Pat Forde lists Ten Reasons why Louisville can beat Kentucky. Before you click the link I bet you can guess some reasons. Rick Pitino has a week? Chane Behanan is a different player and will play more minutes? They learned from their December 31 loss? Peyton Siva is on a mission? UK has a ton of pressure on themselves? And uh Rick Pitino has a week?
ESPN.com takes an in-depth look at the rivalry between John Calipari and Rick Pitino. They do it timeline style and this is by far the best piece out there that breaks down their relationship.
Outside my home here in Louisville, all hell is breaking loose. Insults and predictions are dropping like bombs. Rational people are fleeing bars and restaurants in search of sanctuary. Offices have become battlegrounds, families are being torn apart, and minor events such as weddings are being reorganized. I now know what Edward R. Murrow must have felt like when he was reporting about the siege of London during World War II.
In more than a half century of covering basketball in Kentucky, I thought I had just about seen it all. Heck, even though I was just a kid in 1955, I remember the flag over the state capital building in Frankfort being lowered to half-mast because Georgia Tech had ended the Kentucky Wildcats’ 129-game home winning streak (still the national record). That was my first clue that basketball wasn’t just a game in my native state.
Nevertheless, I wasn’t prepared for the madness that surrounds me this week. I guess I always knew that Kentucky and Louisville would someday meet in the Final Four. But I never dreamed that it would cause all serious work in the Commonwealth to grind to a virtual standstill. I never dreamed that Anthony Davis’ brow would get more radio and TV time than anything since Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier for the first time in 1971.
To put it into context, this is Super Bowl week in Kentucky. Even folks who only have a casual interest in hoops — yes, we do have some of those — are suddenly expressing opinions and making bets and generally acting like fools.
I probably copied too much and put it on here, but I couldn’t find a good spot to stop. It’s really good stuff by a man who has been entrenched in the UK/UofL rivalry for a long time. Read the rest of the article, you won’t regret it.
HoopsWorld.com says that pace will be key in the Louisville-Kentucky game. Clearly, Louisville wants this game in the 50s or 60s. But, I look for Louisville to run when they get opportunities. They struggle to score at times and must take advantage of transition opportunities. On the other end of the spectrum, they can’t let Kentucky get out in transition.
Mike Vaccaro from the New York Times calls the Louisville-Kentucky Un-FOUR-Gettable. Yeah, I think that one is already reserved forever in Lexington. Still, it’s a nice try, I guess.
Mike Rosenberg of SportsIllustrated.com tells us something that we already knew, that UK has all of the pressure on them to win this thing.
This NCAA tournament is about Kentucky and whether anybody can stop Kentucky. That seemed pretty clear two weeks ago, clearer a week ago, and is plainly obvious now. Louisville, Kansas and Ohio State all have a lot of fans, of course, and those fans will watch primarily to see if their team can win the national title. The rest of us want to know if somebody can beat Kentucky.
The Courier-Journal’s Eric Crawford echoes that sentiment and says that John Calipari has to win this thing. He piece is entitled, “Kentucky basketball’s John Calipari is in an absolute must-win situation.” That’s blunt and to the point.
A piece from New Orleans by Peter Finney that talks about UK’s freshmen and the fact that they are mature beyond their years. He got a nice quote from Rick Robey, a member of the 1978 National Championship team, about UK’s freshmen, specifically Anthony Davis, and their respect for Calipari.
“I’ve watched many Kentucky practices,” Robey said. “Coach Cal is in total control and he has total respect. Davis bought into the system immediately. You don’t find big people like Davis who came out of high school shooting jumpers from the perimeter and immediately fitting into Coach Calipari’s system. I’m impressed with Davis’ hands, his rebounding, his knack as a shot blocker, his complete unselfishness. Here’s someone who went from 6-2 as a high school sophomore, to 6-10 by the time he was a college freshman, and he’s completely at ease moving around. Anthony grew a lot faster than I did. In a 12-month period before I arrived at Brother Martin, I went from 6-4 to 6-9. But I didn’t have close to that 7-foot-4 wingspan Anthony has. He’s going to be a great pro.”
The L.A. Times has a nice piece of Gorgui Dieng and how much he has grown on and off the basketball court. They start out by saying how three years ago he couldn’t speak English and just last year he didn’t even understand the whole NCAA Tournament format. He had zero clue what the Sweet 16 or Final Four even meant.
“The first week I would just stay in my room,” he explained. “I couldn’t speak to anybody. I couldn’t do anything because I didn’t speak one word of English. I’d just look at you, I didn’t know what to say.”
He phoned home every night to a faraway father who encouraged his son not to be a wallflower.
“He told me, ‘You need to communicate with people so you can pick up the language very quick,’” Dieng said. “He said, ‘You can’t stay in your corner and not talk to anybody.’”
“Everywhere I go, I want to learn something new,” he said. “Every day I get up, I want to learn something new.”
Oh, and this picture. Cards fans can dream, right? Geeze how much would Kentucky hate Louisville if this really happened?
Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News says that Pitino’s challenge is to find a strategy to help Louisville get past Kentucky in the Final Four. Uh, isn’t that every head coach’s job in America. To find a way to beat the other team. Still, it’s a decent read.
Everyone talks about Louisville’s patented 2-3 match-up zone. Well, the Courier-Journal says that U of L’s defense is sometimes as much of a mystery to them as it is to their opponent.
Finally, TheLedger.com says that more than bragging rights are on the line. Duh, the winner goes to the National Championship game while the other team goes home. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.
Oh, it’s going to be fun.
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