This is a tense week in the Ville. You can just feel it. The big game is coming this week (that is of course hero of the past, Cedric Jenkins, who earned his spot in UK lore in this game) and for the first time in….oh well, ever, both teams fan bases are still talking football. Saturday in Freedom Hall is going to have a feeling like watching your kindergarten child in his first piano recital……you hope he wont mess up, but deep down you know its gonna happen. Cats-Ville…..Feel the Passion!!!!
In all seriousness, I am actually feeling a sense of dread on Saturday. I have no doubt in my mind that Kentucky is a much better team than Louisville. But that doesnt necessarily mean anything in this game. In fact, the three best seasons by these programs recently found themselves with opposite results in the big game. In 1998, Tubby Smith took a team to a national title…..lost to Louisville. In 2003, the Cats finished the season as the first SEC team ever to go undefeated in the SEC regular season and tournament….lost to Louisville. In 2005, Rick Pitino had a face-saving Final Four run…..lost to Kentucky. This game has a way of equalizing these teams and is often not a true reflection of the states of the relative programs.
Having said that, Louisville has just been awful this year. Except for the second half against Arizona, they have been train wreck bad. Losses to Dayton and UMASS…..a should have loss to Northwestern State and two pitiful performances to Ohio and (GASP!) Bellarmine. It aint pretty at Freedom Hall. And with Kentucky, while there has been no embarassing loss, you just get the feeling the team isnt quite connected…..although they are a lot closer than the Cards.
So an objective observer would likely say, Cats win. Some Louisville fans are already expecting to get run out of the gym, seeing visions of Morris dancing sugarplums over David Padgett and his 82 year old knees head the entire game. And I would like to be like that. Because Louisville is terrible. But I dont feel good about this one. The Cards need this one to possibly save their season…..lose this game and they will have no out-of-conference win over a team you have even heard of. They were embarrassed on Wednesday and if Pitino is one iota of a coach, he will have this team knowing that they simply must show up on Saturday.
As for the Cats…..well I dont know. Indiana was a win, over a decent team….but the legacy of the ugly play and Sheray booing makes the fan base uneasy. The Cats have the potential to run off some wins…..beat the Ville and you have 12 straight games where you are favored and you can have a record of a really good team. Lose, and the fan base explodes…..and then who knows what happens.
My head and heart say UK. But my gut says UL…..in a close one. I hope I am wrong….as a matter of fact, for the sake of my enjoyment of this blog, I really hope I am wrong. But I just dont feel good about this one. The keys are (1) keeping Morris on the floor and (2) stopping Louisville’s only offensive weapon, the three point shot. Do those two things and we probably win. But for some reason I just dont think it will happen.
For the Cats sake, I hope I am an idiot….