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Kentucky Wildcat basketball to face a "downgraded" Red Storm this basketball season


When the 2011-2012 University of Kentucky basketball schedule was released, most eyes focused on the first week of December as arguably the Wildcats toughest out of conference stretch.  It had the feel of a NCAA Sweet 16 weekend with UK facing St. Johns on a Thursday and then North Carolina on Saturday.  Now, the St. Johns portion of the schedule has been downgraded.  It was announced that three SJU freshmen, Amir Garrett,  Norvell Pelle and Jakaar Sampson have all been declared ineligible for the opening semester and as of now, the Red Storm will have just eight players to face UK.  It’s a big blow for St Johns, but should give UK a bit of a break before facing the Tar Heels.

Raymond Sanders had arthroscopic surgery on his knee yesterday and will miss the next 2-3 weeks.  Freshman Josh Clemons will start and either Coshik Williams, Jonathan George or freshman Marcus Caffey (or all three) will also see carries.  It’s a tough break for UK, but Kentucky has  a talented (but unproven) stable of running backs and this will help to see who is ready to step up.

The investigation into the University of Miami football program continues and it seems that some of the players are starting to implicate assistant coaches, including one of the coaches on the visitors side of the field Saturday.  From the sounds of things, Charlie Strong is going to eventually have to pull his head out of the sand and deal with Clint Hurtt:

Ray-Ray Armstrong’s father said his son stayed with then-UM assistant coach Clint Hurtt during a recruiting visit, which is a violation regardless of whether it was an official or unofficial visit. Armstrong was forthright about that with the NCAA.

Also, the father of another current player who was interviewed by the NCAA told us that his son indicated that then-UM assistant Joe Pannunzio brought the player to booster Nevin Shapiro.
“How did my son even meet this creep? He would never have met Shapiro without Pannunzio,” said the father, who requested anonymity because the NCAA has asked the players not to reveal what they said. “To have one of the coaches deliver him up to this guy, it’s incredible.”

The NCAA has been trying to determine Hurtt’s and Pannunzio’s level of involvement, and that could significantly impact UM’s punishment. One prominent UM Board of Trustee member said the concern is Hurtt “is up to his neck in this.”

So who is predicted to win the game?  Kentucky is about a touchdown favorite to win the fifth straight game in this rivalry (the first time either team would ever have a five game winning streak) but the folks at ESPN cast their lots on the game and came up with different answers:

Chris Low: The first team to 20 points wins. Maybe the first team to two touchdowns wins. It hasn’t been pretty for the Wildcats on offense, but they’re winning with defense, which will be enough for them to extend their winning streak in the Governor’s Cup to five straight games. … Kentucky 16, Louisville 10.

Edward Aschoff: The Wildcats’ offense has been hard to watch at times, while Louisville is coming off a tough loss to Florida International. But this is a rivalry game, which means both teams will be pulling out new treats and wrinkles. Louisville coach Charlie Strong will be looking for revenge after dropping his first game in the rivalry last year. What better place to do it than Lexington? … Louisville 28, Kentucky 17

I have to say that Low’s argument makes more sense as Aschoff would indicate that Kentucky’s defense is worse than both Murray State and Florida International.  That is the nature of the rivalry, but I can’t see Louisville scoring 28 after combining for 35 in their first two games.

Finally, we will continue our Kentucky/Louisville coverage throughout the day.  I will have the football podcast up at 11:00AM, and my edition of “Know Your Enemy” at 2:00PM.  Late tonight, Corey Price will have his version of “Inside the Numbers” which he promises will be the “single greatest collection of statistics and records concerning the Kentucky/Louisville football game since 1994 that the world has ever seen”.  At least that is what he told me in a text. 

Enjoy the following videos:

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