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60 Hours Until Tournament Time


We continue to creep towards the best 4 days of sports on television of the year, when the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament dominate the existence of any person who considers themselves even a moderate basketball fan. Over the last 20 years, the first four days of the tournament have become an obsession for me as I turn the games on at noon on Thursday and turn the last one off right before 60 Minutes on Sunday. Each year I am treated to some familiarities such as Duke playing a game on Saturday in which no other game is against them so that 100% of the country is forced to watch, Clark Kellogg refusing to look into the camera, Billy Packer being a curmudgeon, random teams taking a game into the final two minutes and the creation of stars with names you dont forget. If I say to you James Forrest, Bryce Drew, Harold “The Show” Arceneaux, Eric Maynor or Chris Kaman, chances are you remember a first round game in which they starred. And who can hear the Universities of Cleveland St, Hampton, Northwestern St, Coppin St, Vermont or Bucknell without remembering upsets past? I have seen Princeton backdoor cut….watched the Hampton coach be lifted into the air with his legs swinging…..seen Kansas choke…..and felt the wrath of Taylor Coppenrath with the best of them. It is the best time of the year and I simply cant wait.

But this year also brings about something different in the first four days. For the past fifteen years or so, the first two rounds had two distinct stages. The joy as I watched other teams play games of consequence and the terror in which I watched Kentucky games. For sixteen straight years, the Cats have made the tournament AND won their first round game. But it hasnt always been easy. The Cats got more than they wanted from Tennessee State, Holy Cross, St Bonaventure, UAB and Villanova. And the Cats have been a part of second round games that were excruciatingly close and painful, ranging from Marquette to Kansas to Maryland to Syracuse to Cincinnati to UCONN. These games inevitably put a pause on the joy of the first four days and leave the fan in me pacing and looking nervously at my scribbled in bracket. Because Kentucky is Kentucky, losing one of the first two games is simply not imaginable and thus they are less joyous occasions and more nervous tests of fortitude.

But this year feels different. For the first time in a long time, the Cats are expected to do nothing in this tournament. They are fortunate to have made the field and after the terrible beginning to the season, the moment their name came on the screen on Sunday, a victory had already occurred. When the Cats take the floor on Thursday afternoon, I personally have no expectations at all…..this group is living on borrowed time in many ways and their performance over the next couple of weeks is all gravy. And because of that mindset, it is somehow appropriate that the opponent is Marquette. For twice in the last fifteen years, the Golden Eagles have taken teams that Kentucky fans genuinely believed were destined for great things and have derailed those dreams. In 2003, many believe (as I do) that Marquette took away championship banner #8 for the Cats and that loss still sits with many fans my age as the ultimate, “What Might Have Been” of the last ten years. Now, Marquette meets the Cats in Anaheim and there seems to be very little expectation or nervousness. How perfect would it be if THIS would be the year that the Cats take the Golden Eagles down?

Ultimately, the next few days is what makes being a college basketball fan fun. Everything that is great about the sport is there in one giant package and a year of suspense is finally building to its conclusion. After the bizarre week last week in Atlanta, I cant wait to sit back and watch games for four days and enjoy the spectacle of college basketball. It simply doesnt get much better than that….well unless Allison Stokke is involved.

Today is a huge day around these parts….we will be doing two of our bracket previews, taking on the South and the West. A Marquette guest blogger will be stopping by to give us an overview of his team and we will take a quick look at the Kentucky High School Sweet 16. Stay tuned….

Article written by Matt Jones

47 responses to “60 Hours Until Tournament Time”

  1. thechickendancer


  2. ruppcrazy

    Man, I would have been first if I hadn’t decided to read the whole thing before posting.

  3. AJStewarts splinter

    Seeing Estill in that Picture, also makes me think of what would have been had he come back his senior year.

    Yes… this is indeed “the MOST won – der-ful tiimmme of the yeeaarrr”… if I may sing a bit.

  4. thechickendancer

    It’s my first first saw it and took the opportunity!

  5. thechickendancer

    Matt I figured you would say something about the memphis interview i didn’t get to hear it anyone.

  6. thechickendancer

    i meant the jay bilas interview i’ve got brackets in my brain

  7. Roggensak

    GO CATS!!! GO CATS!!! C A T S! I love this team, but isn’t it weird that we worried about them getting in the NCAA? I hope we win the first game. Down with the BigLeast!!!

  8. Roggensak

    oh, on I think it was Bradley whom said, “All of the (UK) Fans gave up on them”… I for one didn’t, and I know alot didn’t as well. GO BIG BLUE!!!

  9. BA40

    We ever gonna get the top 10 SEC Tourney moments Matt?

  10. 10, 2, and 4

    Chant from the past: WE-ber STATE, WE-ber STATE, WE-ber STATE….

  11. wild1

    atleast were not playin in minneapolis on al mcguire weekend again like 2003 (as a number 1 seed?). we should have gone all they way that year. tubby needed that win. he would still be here if he got it. we went 30-4 that year? how do u lose to marquette with that team? Kansas beat marquette by 30 the next game. I never like playing marquette.

  12. mumbler

    That st. bonaventure. Wow. Classic OTS there.

  13. mdbryant

    Matt, I would love to hear some analysis of a very important game coming up: Florida vs San Diego St. on Wednesday. The 2 seed back-to-back national champs take their exciting young talent into a first round game against the 7-seeded San Diego St. Aztecs on ESPN2. The excitement will be palpable as UF tries to win their 3rd straight postseason tourny. Maybe a quote from Jai Lucas about how he chose Florida so he could be in important games like this.

    Also, check this link,71718

  14. Splat Jones

    Hey Matt, could you get Chris Singleton back on the show this week to see his thoughts about his future of watching the NCAA tournament on TV while at Florida St.?

  15. drbyars

    “what might have been” is tubby smith would still be our coach

  16. CalifCatFan

    Got my tickets to Thursday’s game. Will be in Section 201, row G. Will have on my Kentucky shirt and yelling for my Cats.

  17. coachclyde

    While Banner #8 would have been great, it would have probably added a few more years to Tubby’s reign in Lexington. And, while I like Tubby, I know Gillespie is a better fit for UK, whereas Minnesota is a better fit for OTS. Sometimes, things work out better in the end.

  18. Splat Jones

    Read this article…

    …then contemplate what NCAA recruiting advantage bylaws Donovan has clearly violated.

    Yet I don’t see any consequence if the NCAA even pursued it. IMO it would be just like a violation a school self reports that is minor. He might get a letter reminding him what he can and can’t say from his in house compliance officer.

    That’s about it I would think, Mark, you have an interpretation of this?

    A coach can’t advertise the facilities his program, regardless of the manufacturered surface intent.

    “They got a facility that the administration has invested a lot in. It’s one of the best in the country. They’ve got a massage therapist to make sure they’re OK after games. They’ve got a private plane that they take to games. The meals that they eat. All those things, these guys came here and went right to the penthouse.”

    If this can’t be considered as an infraction, then the rules are truely messed up. Seriously, I can’t photoshop a kid into an action shot of him dunking with Derek Andersen’s body, however Donovan can use ESPN articles to talk about all the things his recruits have that most other schools don’t (“personal massage therapist”, meals, private planes, referring to the facilities as a “Penthouse”).

    In another statement:

    “Probably in some respects the confetti is still falling down around them,” Donovan said Monday. “When you have great success like we’ve had, I think it’s very, very easy to become complacent and to lose sight of how good things are around here and to have an attitude of, ‘I’m at Florida. This is just what’s going to happen.'”

    This one isn’t an infraction but is just a comically clear historically inaccurate statement due to the “‘I’m at Florida. This is just what’s going to happen” line. I had to point this one out too as rule bending for profit is the premise of the post (I don’t see how lying for profit is much morally different).

  19. BravoBigBlue

    Clearly Donovan has lost it. Anybody still wishing he had become UK’s coach? Not me – never did. I couldn’t have cheared for another egomaniac (Pitio-lite).

  20. Beezner

    I don’t even think Donovan is that great of a coach. It seems like he just caught lightning in a bottle with that class and everything before (except for 99) and everything after has failed to live up to expectations.

  21. AJStewarts splinter

    I’m with you #19… although i did want Billy D you always get the sense that he and Pitino are lying to you. Atleast with OTS and now BCG when they don’t know stuff they don’t just make crap up, or give excuses for losses.

  22. Splat Jones

    OTS gave excuses for loses. He threw his players under the bus many times. Not to get off topic, just correcting your stretch AJStewarts Splinter

  23. AJStewarts splinter

    i can’t recall Tubby throwin players under the bus… in fact he always took up for the Sheray’s (foul line), B. Perry’s, even Rondo’s poor attitude (but he did start Stockton). Even when he kicked guys off the team (Allison, Stone, Carruth, Parker) it was quite. He never made a big stink, just business as usual.

  24. AJStewarts splinter

    But hey, the AP voted Calathes SEC frosh of the year! and PPat and Smooth to second team. Joe C. only honorable mention.

  25. Splat Jones

    AJ’s Splinter… you can’t recall. I can. That clears that up.

  26. AJStewarts splinter

    #25 that’s hilarious. Thanks for clearing that up (lmao).

  27. claywhitenack

    I don’t know. I mean, yeah, I think Donovan was wrong to call his players out like that, but I don’t see a problem with kicking his players out of the practice gym. If Billy G. kicked our players out of the Craft Center we’d be calling it coaching genius.

  28. TNBluemist

    Matt, you should never ever mention Allison Stokke without including a picture. And you should mention her at least once a day!

  29. GoCats

    Definitely the greatest 4 days in sports all year long. I love it. I have no problem donating $20 to my office pool because for the 17th straight year I got UK going all the way!
    Here is my reasoning, I am known at work for being the biggest UK fan in the world(I don’t live in the bluegrass state, so I believe I have the title in my area). If UK were to pull off the miracle and win it all and I didn’t pick them, I could never live with myself or show my face and call myself a diehard UK fan! CATS to win it all!!!!!

  30. drmarc

    Is there a TV schedule out for the UK game yet? What channels etc..

  31. Clandestine

    Splat is wrong. More revisionist history. Why UK fans continue to bash Tubby is asinine. He’s gone. Quit hating.

  32. GoCats

    #31 I agree I respect every former player and coach that wore the uniform. Time to move on.
    I do agree with Splat about asking Chris Singleton if he is going to watch the NCAA tourney on TV with the rest of the Seminoles next year.

  33. Splat Jones

    # 31 Clandestine – You guys want to rewrite history to some sugar coated fantasy and pass it off as kosher.

    One of the issues that came up among fans discussion with Tubby is how he would periodically thow kids under the bus. That was one of the refreshing things with Billy Gillispie, not giving excuses. I didn’t say he always did it. I said he did it.

    It’s a non-issue. All coaches have flaws. Hell, Tubby thought he did his job while he was here. That was wrong too, big deal.

  34. Clandestine

    As a “fan” you’re not doing your job by blasting away. How about instead, you support your players & coaches, past & present and quit complaining like a 4-year-old little girl?

    Go Cats!


    We will beat Marquette by 10+ on Thursday!
    GO CATS!

  36. Splat Jones

    To prevent another thread war, I’ll lay off tossing the easy grenades. Those year of our history book will be graded differently by fans. We all place different values on different things.

    I’ll give a complement so you don’t feel like you have to have the last word… Tubby did part of his job really well.

    Let’s get back to Donovan calling the rooms provided his recruits a “Penthouse” on ESPN. The NCAA ok with that, huh?

  37. dmw8067

    30, just check with your local CBS station and see what they tell you. Otherwise watch at Set up your account first though, and don’t wait until Thursday to set it up. Every game will be on their web site at no cost – free……..

  38. Wildcat Girl 11

    I’ll have to listen to it on the radio, my work has blocked us from that website! Boo!

  39. GoCats

    I can afford losing a few hours vacation time on Thursday, I will be leaving at 1:30 with a severe case of the BLUE flu! GO CATS!!!

  40. cats4theship

    gregg doyel of said that Kentucky was easliest the third best program behind UCLA and UNC. He said these two teams would be the dream chanmpionship match up and it would be the two best programs meeting for the title. I undestand them saying UCLA becuase they happened to win a whole bunch of titles in one decade but no way UNC is ahead of UK.

  41. matt s

    I wonder if Billy DOnovan has kicked himself out of his nice office or took away his plush leather chair or is banning himself and his coaches from wearing Florida gear. I guess he did not do anything wrong at all during the season. It was all on his players.

  42. GoCats

    I know everyone thinks the NIT is a joke but I sure hope Florida doesn’t win it because everyone will think Donovan is a genius again for doing this “motivational trick” on his players instead of seeing it for what it really is which is a lack of responsibility taken by the coach.

  43. wildcatsfan2000
  44. CAnTuckeeBoi

    Go Cats did you always hate Tubby….?

  45. GoCats

    #44 not sure why you are asking me that, but I always liked Tubby and still do, I just don’t like that he is still a topic of discussion when we need to talk about the future.

  46. CAnTuckeeBoi

    sorry it was intended for Splay Jones ….. Splat Jones did you always hate Tubby??

  47. Splat Jones

    I don’t hate Tubby CanTuckeeBoi. We’re talking about a job that very few people can pull off. That’s why the ones who were great are considered gods. If you want to consider everyone great, then your dilluting the sky with your emotional attachments and not being true to the heavens.

    There are so many levels of good before you even get toreally good, let alone great. People sometimes just grow complacent with what someone really was. No one is perfect, but who on earth could have followed in Pitino’s footsteps when he left KY and afterwards really be looked at like they were as good? I honestly don’t think anyone at that time existed that could do that because they would always be compared to where the program was when they took over and where it was when they left.

    Again, it’s all about what each individual thinks are the important parts to grade their coach on. AJSplinters brought him up in this thread. I don’t mind people honoring Tubby Smith, it’s just when people get carried away and start making claims about him that are simply not accurate. He did the best that he could and I think we could have gone further.


    Tubby was here 10 years. he won the big one on year #1, then never returned to the final four or built the momentum to go into the Tourny with a truely dominant team from there on out. Now before you start up hear me out. In the last 11 years Billy Donovan went in to Florida and started with that program way below the level UK was at and in 11 years got Florida to the point to where they won 2 championships in a row with the most dominant team in the game at that time. AT FLORIDA! Remember who they were 11 years ago? Yea, as capable as an Auburn at pulling that off.

    Now, put Donovan at UK 8 years ago and do you think KY might be sitting with 9 NCAA banners in 2008? Yea, in hindsight it’s easy to say this but… I think the odds are certainly better for Donovan to have pulled that off at KY than at Florida had he started here instead of there 8 years ago.

    You don’t see John Wooden’s on every street corner. Nor are Adolph Rupp’s a dime a dozen.

    I wanted KY to have THE BEST… and when you start questioning if your guy is the best or not, then there’s something wrong. You’ve got to give a guy a chance (2-4 seasons depending on the circumstances) but even if someone has earned the spot, they still have to do more. They have to show they are capable of topping their own best. I just started to lose faith after I saw years go by where kids weren’t turning the corner and we were getting out hustled.

    It looks like he’s got some fire back in him in Minnesota, more power to him. I think he will thrive in an atmosphere where expectation isn’t 100 years of Kentucky history thick. That’s all I’m saying about Tubby for a long time. Please, no more overboard statements and I won’t match them with my own.