Hype starts for Kentucky Wildcats / Louisville Cardinals 12/28 showdown

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Dec 29, 2012; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) drives to the basket against Louisville Cardinals center Gorgui Dieng (10) during the first half at the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Kentucky 80-77. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Isn’t it about time that pundits finally admitted that the Kentucky Wildcat / Louisville Cardinal rivalry is the best in college basketball? It’s time to put an end to the Tobacco Road talk of UNC and Duke. UK and UL have won the last two national titles and it is hard to imagine the trophy leaving the Bluegrass next year. And the hype for the 12/28 showdown at Rupp is already starting. Adam Zagoria caught up with Gorgui Dieng nad he seems to think that next years version of the Cardinals is even better than this years national title team. Dieng also had some kind words for the Wildcats.

 

“Kentucky always have a chance to win it,” Dieng said of the Wildcats and their historic incoming recruiting class, highlighted by Julius Randle and Andrew and Aaron Harrison.

“They always have the best players and always, I don’t want to say best players, they always have the chance but are they going to be a team? We don’t know. You can have a lot of pieces but it’s tough to have a team.”

By contrast, Dieng said Louisville, which doesn’t have a single one-and-done talent, is more of a team.

“We always have a team. we always have a team,” he said. “Thats what Coach ‘P’ is all about – team. He doesn’t care who you are . You can be the best player but if you do something wrong, he’s going to sit you down. If you’re body fat is over nine percent, you won’t play.”

 

Dec 2, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats Athletic director Mitch Barnhart spoke to reporters during a press conference introducing Mark Stoops as the new football coach at Kentucky in the Nutter Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky fans have had a curious love/hate relationship with AD Mitch Barnhart. As successful as John Calipari and Mark Stoops will be, some fans will not let Barnhart forget Joker Phillips and Billy Gillispie. And the fact that little brother rose up and had better seasons than UK in the four big sports had Mark Story digging around a bit. Story recalled Barnhart’s promise in 2002 that UK would own the state and came up with these findings.

 

Kentucky has a winning record against Louisville in two of the four most visible sports since Barnhart’s vow and a losing mark in two.

Even with the Hal Mumme-era NCAA probation Barnhart inherited, UK has done better vs. U of L in football under the AD than it was doing before he arrived. The Wildcats have fared worse against the Cards in the other three high-visibility sports under Barnhart than they were doing before he was hired.

However, the Tom Jurich-era Louisville Athletics Department is far more formidable across the board than the U of L that Kentucky was competing against prior to 1997.

Bottom line: Combined, UK is 29-27 against U of L in the four most visible sports since Mitch Barnhart came to Lexington. Rather than “owning the state,” Kentucky is more holding its own against Louisville.

 

You can do anything with numbers, but its kind of silly to say that basketball is in worse shape now than before Barnhart arrived.  It’s just amazing the spin you can put on one miraculous year by Louisville, but I’d still go to battle with my Wildcats.

 

Jan 12, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) and forward Alex Poythress (22) and forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) and guard Archie Goodwin (10) huddle before the game against the Texas A

It’s a week and a day until the NBA Draft and Chad Ford still has Nerlens Noel as the number one pick in the draft. Things are not as rosy for Archie Goodwin is number 38 on Ford’s big board. However, Ford still projects Goodwin as a late first round pick as he thinks some team will jump up and take a flyer on him. Here is what Ford said about Noel.

 

Analysis: The Cavs have been talking to teams for weeks about a trade, but they are finding a limited market and at this point are likely to keep the pick.

Sources in Cleveland strongly suggest that the Cavs have yet to make their decision. Anthony Bennett, Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Alex Len and Noel all have visits and/or workouts scheduled in Cleveland this week. Noel is scheduled to visit the team Thursday and has a chance to seal the deal as the No. 1 pick if he performs well.

Noel remains on top because he fits the profile of a player the Cavs prefer to draft — the player with the most long-term upside. That’s why they picked Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters at No. 4 the past couple of years and why Noel remains the favorite. Sources say Noel’s strongest competition right now is Len, whom some in the organization favor because he, too, has size and defensive ability, but he’s less raw and should be cleared to play much sooner than Noel.

 

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