(Oddly, I think those vision problems are also a symptom of bird flu.)
The biggest key will be how well UK handles the ball, which I don't think will present the problem many expect it to be. Ryan Harrow has been improving and turning the ball over wasn't one of his problems to begin with.
Some keys for UofL include:
n Keep the NCAA from discovering Peyton Siva has been at UofL for 12 years.
n Russ "Russdiculous" Smith can’t live up to his Russ-dimwitted moniker by playing like there is 5 second shot clock.
n Chane Behanan must avoid picking up three fouls and another gag order from his coach before the first media timeout.
3. Who will win the game?
Morris: Louisville should and will win the game. But I don’t expect a blowout. Louisville has superior talent at just about every position, find me one person Kyle Wiltjer can guard, and aside from Goodwin and Noel, the Wildcats do not have the athletes Louisville does this year.
I wouuld have given Kentucky the advantage at just one position, center, and that is just because Gorgui Dieng was not expected to play because of a broken wrist. But since it was announced Wednesday that he would play, the Cards are better at every spot. Still, I expect Kentucky to come out and play well. “Camp Cal,” which sounds like he is actually making his team work hard — a real novel approach — has seemed to work so far. But UK is not playing the Lipscombs, Portlands and Marshalls of the world. And this is only UK’s second road game. The Cats melted down like a Japanese reactor at Notre Dame, but should fare better this time. If not, Saturday and SEC¿play is going to be rough.
I’ll say Louisville 65, UK¿59.
Brock: Like lots of things that were cool in the 1980s, UofL has seen an inexplicable resurgence of popularity and stature of late, so I expect it to be a good game. Having said that, Kentucky wins.
Calipari insists this is just another game, but anyone who thinks he doesn't burn with the desire to stay ahead of his one-time buddy is foolish. He has been building toward this game since the beginning of practice and will deploy his superior resources accordingly.
I fully expect Gorgui Dieng to complete his post-Christmas miracle and recover in time to play Saturday. However, I think he gets upstaged and outswatted by Kentucky's twin towers.
Cats win 75-64. Merry Cauley-Stein and Happy Nerlens Noel to all.
4. Who has the more difficult coaching job this year — Rick Pitino or John Calipari?
Morris: Well, Calipari may have done his best coaching job because he really didn’t have to coach last year’s team. Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist took charge and Cal could just manage egos and lets his uber-talented squad roll on. That is not the case this year. UK has one of the youngest teams in the country. Calipari has shown he can get teams ready, but he may have to do his best coaching job to avoid a down year and bad seed in the NCAA¿Tournament, which is all he cares about anyway.
Pitino may have more pressure this year, but his job is less difficult. He has a veteran squad, led by Siva, and has crazy athleticism at just about every spot. Russ Smith may drive him up the wall, sure, but if you want evidence Pitino is enjoying this year, go to YouTube and see what happened when a reporter’s phone went off during his postgame press conference a few weeks ago. The old Pitino during a tough year may have exploded. This Pitino just laughed it off and answered the phone. Does that sound like a coach with a difficult job?
Brock: Calipari always has the most difficult coaching job, but not simply because he sends most of his teams to the NBA every year. He also has to live up to the historically great standards set by both the program and himself.
Louisville returns a full cast of nicknames and inflated egos, so Pitino seemingly has a lot less stress. He has mentioned his lack of worry about his veteran team staying sharp with a long layoff since their last game, for whatever that’s worth.