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Here is the final edition of the weekly feud with my co-workers David Brock and Mandy Simpson debating everything about the Kentucky-Louisville game today. Hope youÂ have enjoyed their conversations, which I found to be pretty typical of what I heard about everywhere I went this week.
Question: If your team lost this game, would it ruin your 2012?
Brock: â€œIt might not ruin it, but I cannot tell a lie. It would be a bit of a stain on the season if they lost. They could redeem themselves, though, if they went on to win the national championship like they did after slipping up against a nondescript UofL team in 1997-1998. It would have been sweeter if UofL had made it to the tournament that year so we could have had a rematch. Oh well.â€
Simpson: â€œNo â€” maybe just a few hours afterwords. But, as I’ve said, I stand by my Cardinal Birds in a all weather, and they’ll have a long season with a lot of big games to prove their talent. As long as the Cards continue to play with class and heart, I’ll have a great year.â€
Question: Which team has the best chance to be national champion in April?
Brock: â€œThis is probably the easiest question. Kentucky. Louisville, on the other hand, has great chance at falling out of the top 50 before losing the first game of the NIT. Alas, I have full confidence they will eek their way into a decent NCAA Tournament seed before running into another OVC buzzsaw in the first round.â€
Simpson: â€œLouisville, for two reasons â€” depth and leadership. By April, Buckles and Ware should be even stronger and more comfortable than they will be against Kentucky. Additionally, Wayne Blackshear â€” a McDonald’s All-American and our number one recruit this season – will return, hungry to help his team and ready to show the nation his skills. Another of our young recruits, Angle Nunez, is finally starting to play with some confidence and could help our shooting game (which has been an early area of need improvement for the Cards) and give our starters some stress-free rest.
â€œBut we won’t rely on our freshmen in the tournament. We’ll look to players who have been there before (yes, UK fans, when we suffered a heart-breaking loss to Morehead State University in the first round, despite proving our talent all season and beating both teams that competed for the national championship). Siva and Kyle Kuric will provide the most leadership on the floor because both have proven they can make major plays under serious pressure. Take note Big Blue fans, that’s what three or four years of NCAA experience can do for a player. Additionally, Dieng, Russ Smith, Swopshire, Chris Smith and (again, hopefully) Elisha Justice will play with maturity and desire to redeem our early exit last season.
â€œIn the end, Louisville’s tournament game plan will rely on the same thing the program depends on, athletes who’ve truly developed under Pitino and play for their team rather than themselves. As always, our boys will wear their jerseys respectfully and make their city proud.â€