Posted November 12, 2013, 5:09 pm
Watching Kentucky and Michigan State this early in the season is like eating your pie before your dinner. Games like this should be preserved for late March or April. Or, maybe games of this magnitude are seen in the conference season between rivals. Regardless, college basketball fans are getting a special treat tonight to watch two unbelievable matchups in Chicago. Kentucky vs. Michigan State and Duke vs. Kansas. The elite of the elite. (Don't worry Mr. Jealous Louisville Fan...you are in the 2nd-3rd tier of the elite teams.)
Some interesting points to the UK vs. Michigan State game:
- Talent vs. Experience Unless you turn off the sound on your TV tonight you'll hear this time and time again. Michigan State brings virtually the same team back this year that lost in the Sweet 16 to Duke this past March. Calipari brings in a completely new team. In most cases it is easy to dimiss young teams especially this early in the season. But, this Kentucky team isn't just any team.
- Izzo vs. Calipari Coach Izzo is closing in on 450 wins for good reason. He's one of the best in the business and has a ring to show for it. He and Calipari have a lot of similarities as they both like blue collar basketball. This game will be physical and it will be encouraged by these friends on the sidelines. Prissy boys are best served at Duke.
- What are Kentucky fans saying about this game? If I had a dollar for everytime I've heard somebody say "I wish this game wasn't this early" or "If we win this game then we'll go 40-0". Then, I'd have at least $14. To say there is nervousness in the BBN over tonight is an understatement. We know we're good. We know we're going to get better. But, are we as good as we need to be right now to beat this team? We'll find out tonight.
- Freshmen Jitters As Weege noted in his pregame article, our McDonald's All-American Freshmen are not your everyday Freshmen. They've played the biggest games and in the biggest venues. There is no reason to belive they will be any more rattled than States guys.
- What does tonight show us? If we win, then it really does give glimmers of 40-0. This is the best team we'll play until March and we will get infinitely better throughout the season. If we lose, then we'll hear some whining from our fans and a lot of mouthing from experts. But, you know what? So be it. As Andrew Harrison said, we're looking to win a championship and not just a single game.
- Which Freshman shines tonight? Seven of the top 2013 recruits are playing tonight. Five of those are our guys. Kansas has Wiggins and Duke has Jabari Parker.
After the dust settles, I fully expect the Cats to win by a whopping 4 points. This game is huge and we will take care of business. What a way to start this historic season!
Posted November 12, 2013, 2:29 pm
Not sure about the song choice, but this video will get you warmed up for the big game.
Posted November 12, 2013, 10:24 am
Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
W. Virginia at Va. Tech 1:00 pm ESPN West Virginia –3.5
Prediction: West Virginia 72-68
S. Carolina at Baylor #23 3:00 pm ESPN Baylor –14
Prediction: Baylor 76-60. Bet Baylor -14
N.C. State at Cincinnati 5:00 pm ESPN Cincinnati –7
Prediction: Cincinnati 71-66. Bet N.C. State +7
VCU #14 at Virginia #25 7:00 pm ESPN2 Virginia –3.5
Prediction: VCU 70-66. Bet VCU +3.5
Hofstra at Louisville #3 7:00 pm ESPN Full Court Louisville –32
Prediction: Louisville 82-49. Bet Louisville -32
Kentucky #1 vs. Michigan St. #2 7:30 pm ESPN MSU -3
Prediction: UK 68-67. Bet UK +3
Florida #11 at Wisconsin #20 9:00 pm ESPN2 Wisconsin –6
Prediction: Florida 64-63. Bet Florida +6
Tennessee at Xavier 9:00 pm FOX Sports 1 Xavier –1
Prediction: Xavier 65-63. Bet Xavier -1
Duke #4 vs. Kansas #5 9:30 pm ESPN Kansas –5
Prediction: Kansas 71-70. Bet Duke +5
Leemo’s Five Star Lock of the Day: VCU +3.5, Florida +6 and Duke +5
2013-2014 College Basketball Season
Year to date (Straight up picks): 6-1
Year to date (Against the spread): 4-3
Year to date (5 star Locks): 1-0
Posted November 11, 2013, 11:24 am
Everything You Need To Know About the Kentucky vs Michigan State Game Tomorrow:
Are we really playing Sparty this early in the season?
Yes. Our young #1 rated Wildcats will be taking on the #2 team in the country Tuesday night in the first game of the State Farm Champions Classic at the United Center in Chicago. Tip-off is at 7:30 ET and the game will be televised on ESPN. The Champions Classic's second game will be Duke (#4) vs Kansas (#5). 7 of the nation's top 10 ranked freshmen will be in action in this Classic.
What's Coach Cal's record in #1 vs #2 games?
His record is 0 - 2 but that's a bit deceiving. When he coached UMASS he lost to the best Kentucky team ever assembled in the Final Four in 1996 (he had already beaten them once). The only other time he was involved in a #1 vs #2 battle his Memphis team lost by 1 point to Bruce Pearl's Tennessee Vols.
Isn't Michigan State loaded?
Yes. They are returning 4 starters from last year's Sweet 16 team. They have veteran players at every position. Several "experts" picked MSU to win it all this season in spite of Kentucky's historic recruiting class. In the latest AP Poll they received 22 votes at the #1 team (UK received 27 votes).
How do we match up with them?
It's going to be a battle of young talent versus experience. It will likely be a very physical game. Michigan State will crash the boards and for the Wildcats to emerge victorious they will need to exploit their height advantage and match the physicality of the Spartans.
What's the spread on this game?
Currently Kentucky is a 2.5 point favorite. Vegas thinks UK will win the game.
What's the history between UK and MSU?
Kentucky leads the all-time series 12 - 10 but the Spartans won the last matchup against the Cats in 2005 in overtime of the Elite 8. That was the game where regulation ended with Patrick Sparks hitting a three pointer that bounced all over the rim before falling through.
How did MSU look in their season opener?
They looked dominant. Gary Harris led the way with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in a 42 point romp of McNeese State. Adreian Payne also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The big surprises for the Spartans were Brandon Dawson (12 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists) and Travis Trice (11 points, 8 assists). If you're keeping track at home, that's three players with double-doubles in the same game, which is unheard of. They had six guys in double figures and they dominated the boards 66-29.
Will our young Wildcats crumble under the pressure of such a big stage so early in the season?
I don't think they will. These guys are McDonald's All-Americans who have played in many all-star games all around the country and have even respresented their country several times. They won't be shell-shocked like typical freshmen would be.
Who are the experts picking to win this game?
As I mentioned, Vegas is projecting Kentucky as a 2.5 point favorite. But there are many media members and websites out there predicting an MSU victory. Here's a prediction from the Bleacher Report:
"Were this matchup to take place again in March, Kentucky’s incredible depth and ability could be enough. However, it is going to take some time for the Wildcats to reach their full potential with so many young players on the floor at once, and Michigan State will take advantage.
Look for Appling and Harris to suffocate the Harrison brothers on the defensive end, forcing critical turnovers in the process. The Spartans will convert the subsequent opportunities in transition into easy baskets.
But it’s not just the harassing defense Michigan State plays that will give Kentucky trouble. You would be hard pressed to find a more physically dominant squad in the country and on the boards than Izzo’s bunch. Between the Spartans’ defense and proclivity for contact, the young Wildcats will grow frustrated by late in the second half.
Prediction: Michigan State 78, Kentucky 72"
What are our players saying about this game?
After the NKU game Aaron Harrison said obviously they want to win the game but the bigger goal is to win a National Championship.
Julius Randle simply said, "Bring it on."
Who will be the difference makers in this game?
For Kentucky it will be Julius Randle once again. He was named "Player of the Week" by CBS Sports for the first week of the season. He's averaging 22.5 points and 15 rebounds per game after two games. His 45 points in 2 games is the most of any Calipari freshman (John Wall had 40), his 30 rebounds dwarfs the most of any other Calipari freshman after two games (Terrence Jones 17), and he has accomplished this in only 55 minutes of action (Wall 75, Jones 65). Randle is a legitimate Player of the Year candidate and has a great shot at being the #1 pick in next year's NBA Draft.
Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein have both played two solid games in a row. If they can keep it up, especially Poythress, the Cats should be able to match the Spartans on the boards which will be critical in this game.
Be sure to keep an eye on James Young. He is from Michigan and was heavily recruited by MSU. Young hasn't played all that well in the first two games and this game will be extremely important to him personally. He has the ability to knock down threes, throw down momentum swinging dunks and can be the best defender on the court. If he has a big game tomorrow I really like Kentucky's chances to win.
What's your prediction of this game?
I think it will be a very physical game with both teams racking up a lot of fouls. Kentucky will keep the same starting five but will often be rotating Poythress, Johnson and Marcus Lee with Cauley-Stein to keep fresh bodies on the floor and crash the boards. The key for Kentucky will be to start the game strong and not dig a hole for themselves early. They had three sluggish starts before finally playing better against NKU last night. They need to be aggressive right out of the gate and buckle down on defense from the start.
My prediction: Kentucky 78 MSU 75.
Yes Tom, you are #2.
Posted November 10, 2013, 6:12 pm
For the first time this season Kentucky didn't wait until the second half to put the hammer down. The Wildcats went on a 13-0 run to blow the game open midway through the first half, led by Julius Randle who had a double-double at half time. The Cats led by 26 at the break and never looked back, winning 93 - 63. Randle punished the Norse throughout and threw down three thunderous dunks. He finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 3 assists. The Harrison Twins chipped in 16 (Aaron) and 13 (Andrew). Alex Poythress had another strong performance with 9 points and 8 boards.
We are now less than 50 hours away from the Michigan State game. Can't wait.
Posted November 10, 2013, 10:50 am
At 4:00 ET the Cats will tip-off against the Norse of NKU. This is what you need to know:
- The game will be televised on Fox Sports South.
- The Norse are members of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
- Their mascot is a humorous looking Viking.
- They just completed their first season as a Dicision I Program.
- They were 9-9 in conference last season and finished 11-16 overall.
- They played Purdue to the wire Friday night and only lost by 1 point on a buzzer-beater.
- Jordan Jackson was their leading scorer with 24 points.
- They hit 13 of 26 threes against Purdue.
- The Norse have never played UK in a regular season game.
- The last time the Norse played the Cats was an exhibition game in 2004, with UK winning 91-73.
SkyAntoine and myself will be attending this game. It will be interesting to see what adjustments Coach Cal makes with the rotation. Will Alex Poythress come off the bench again as the 6th man? Will Marcus Lee slide up the rotation ahead of Dakari and get more playing time? We shall see. This will be the final tune-up before the epic showdown with Michigan State Tuesday night. GBB!!
Posted November 9, 2013, 10:14 am
As expected, the Cats dismantled the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs last night. However, for the third game in a row they got off to a sluggish start with sloppy play and a lack of defensive intensity. We were actually losing after the first seven minutes of the game. The Cats eventually began to pull away and put the hammer down in the second half, winning by 32 points.
The whole country had their eyes on Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle as they each made their college debut. Each of them had a good game, but Randle outshined them all with 23 points and 15 rebounds. The rest of UK's freshmen weren't too shabby either. All in all, the freshmen scored 76 of Kentucky's 89 points. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was Marcus Lee coming off the bench and scoring 17 points in only 15 minutes of action. Late in the game Lee put an exclamation point on his performance by throwing down a monster jam from a lob from Jon Hood.
The game wasn't all about the freshmen, however, as Willie Cauley-Stein played a solid game and Alex Poythress came out of his shell to put up a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The Cats showed improvement but still have a long way to go. They have a game tomorrow against Northern Kentucky, who is no slouch. The Norsemen took Purdue to the wire last night and only lost by one point. After that, the Cats will play their toughest opponent of the year on Tuesday night against Michigan State. Let's hope they're ready.
Kentucky's Box Score from the UNC-Asheville game