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VOTE for UK vs. Florida in NCAA All-Time Starting Five Championship

VOTE for UK vs. Florida in NCAA All-Time Starting Five Championship

The time has come, my friends. The NCAA March Madness Twitter account just posted the poll to determine who wins its All-Time Starting Five Tournament, Kentucky or Florida. How Florida got to the finals is beyond me, but here are the starting fives for each squad:

Kentucky

  • John Wall
  • Tony Delk
  • Tayshaun Prince
  • Anthony Davis
  • DeMarcus Cousins

Florida

  • Erving Walker
  • Bradley Beal
  • Chandler Parsons
  • Al Horford
  • Joakim Noah

And the poll for you to dominate:

Kentucky has an early lead, 62% to 38%, but the poll will be up for two days, so tell your friends.

Here’s how the Cats got to the finals:

ICYMI last night, TJ Walker broke down how the bracket really should have gone:

How the NCAA’s All-Time Starting 5 Should Have Gone

Vote, vote, vote.


Want to own Bill Keightley’s Wildcat recliner?

Want to own Bill Keightley’s Wildcat recliner?

Bill Keightley is one of the most beloved figures in Kentucky Basketball history and now, you can own his favorite chair.

Keightley’s daughter Karen donated Mr. Wildcat’s Kentucky-themed recliner to A Taste of Grace’s annual fundraiser in Lexington. This year’s auction takes place tomorrow, August 17, at 7 p.m. at Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington and benefits Baby’s Health Services.

The opening bid at the live auction will start at the highest online bid (minimum $500). If no one bids higher at the live auction, the highest online bid will win. Tickets are available for $50 each through A Taste of Grace’s Facebook page, Cork and Barrel on Nicholasville Road, and the office at Faith Lutheran Church at 1000 Tates Creek Road.

The recliner is made by Niagara and features massage, heat, and a vintage Wildcat logo. I hear it even whispers Mr. Keightley’s thoughts on the current Cats in your ear while you watch the game. Come with your wallet open, because Drew Franklin’s already got his eye on it for our new offices above KSBar and Grille.

[University of Kentucky (Mr. Wildcat) Recliner]


Five Thoughts on Duke’s Opening Game in Canada

These are the supposed “slowest days” on the college hoops calendar – but man, we fans must have done something right, because the college hoops Gods are smiling upon us! That’s right, less than 72 hours after Kentucky wrapped up their four-game tour of the Bahamas, Duke opened up a three-game trip in Canada on Wednesday night.

And seriously, whether you love Kentucky and hate Duke or the exact opposite (I’m guessing I know where most people reading this stand) admit it, it’s good to have college basketball back on our TV’s, isn’t it?

It sure is, and after Kentucky laid down the gauntlet with a four-game bludgeoning in the Bahamas last week, Duke returned volley with a solid 86-67 win Wednesday night in their opener in Canada. The victory wasn’t as impressive on paper as the wins that Kentucky picked up last week, but credit should be given to the Blue Devils who got a solid win, against a good team (more on that coming) without two of their best players. Both Cam Reddish and Tre Jones sat out the game with minor injuries, meaning that Duke was down two starters in the victory.

So what did we learn in Wednesday’s game? Thankfully, I’m here to tell you. As one of 11 people in America with an ESPN+ account (shout out to the 7-day free trial) I figured I’d share a couple thoughts.

Here are five takeaways from Duke’s opening night win, and what you need to know about the Blue Devils going forward.

The team they played was legit:

Of all the questions that I got while discussing the game on Twitter (follow me on @Aaron_Torres if you’re somehow not already), the most prevalent one was “How was the competition?” After watching Kentucky dominate grown men last week I’d say that it wasn’t quite as good as most of the teams the Wildcats played last week – but make no mistake Ryerson is a solid squad.

For those who aren’t familiar with Canadian college basketball (and if you’re not, shame on you!!) they are considered the second best college program in Canada, and while that doesn’t sound like much, it’s actually more impressive than you’d think. The No. 1 team in Canada is a school named Carelton, which has actually played and beaten both Ole Miss and Cincinnati in the last few weeks. And get this: Each win was by more than 20 points. These Canadian schools can play, even if you’ve never heard of them.

If anything, I would compare the skill level of Ryerson to that of a really good Atlantic 10 or Mountain West type team. No, they probably couldn’t compete night-in and night-out in the ACC or SEC, but they would still probably be a fringe bubble team, capable of winning a game or two if they got to the NCAA Tournament. They had real players, a couple of which were definitely good enough to play at the high-major level (that included one kid who apparently committed to Ryerson over UConn – a fact that made me want to vomit).

Therefore, while this was a game that Duke should have won, it was still a solid victory none the less.

Zion Williamson is the real deal:

If you just look at a box score you’d see that R.J. Barrett was the leading scorer for the Blue Devils on Wednesday night. But if you watched the game, you know that Zion Williamson was the star. He finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds, with two MONSTER dunks thrown in for good measure.

What was maybe most impressive is that Williamson performed well, even despite Ryerson implementing a game-plan that virtually everyone in college basketball will use this season. Not wanting to get embarrassed, Ryerson played off Williamson, trying to force him to beat them with the three-point shot. Well he did that by hitting three three-pointers in the first half. Even more impressive was the fact that at a certain point he just decided to go down low and fight for rebounds – and he grabbed a couple simply by jumping right over dudes. It really was a sight to see.

I know Williamson is a lightning rod player, one that plenty of people have doubts about beyond his dunks. But on Wednesday he lived up to the hype.

Duke is once again going to really struggle with depth issues:

Listen, as good as Williamson and Barrett were, it wasn’t all rainbows, sunshine and bad dye jobs for the Blue Devils on Wednesday night. And to me, the biggest problem with the Blue Devils will once again be depth.

Look, I get that Reddish and Jones were out, and Alex O’Connell (who is sporting a heck of a new haircut) was limited after the first few minutes, but it really does look like once again this team will still be limited by depth. Outside of the four freshmen, only O’Connell, Marques Bolden and Javin Delaurier look like they’re ready to play against the better teams on Duke’s schedule.

And while some would say “seven guys are more than enough in college basketball” I do believe it’s something to keep an eye on.

For one, the Blue Devils don’t have a steady point guard behind Tre Jones (although sophomore Jordan Goldwire looked solid in limited minutes) and the offense struggled to run without him at times. Two, it really is dangerous to play with so few dependable players in college basketball. It only takes one injury or a night full of foul trouble for your whole season to go up in smoke.

Duke’s starting five is as talented as anyone in the country. What worries me is what happens when a couple of those guys aren’t on the floor.

Poor Marques Bolden hasn’t changed

This was unquestionably the most disappointing part of the whole game: Now in year three, Marques Bolden looks… well, exactly like Marques Bolden has for the last two seasons. He still has little feel for the game and looks completely lost every time he steps on the court.

I know that at a certain point we’ve got to stop feeling bad for him and let him own up to his lack of development as a player. But at the same time, it should be a warning to every other big-time high school recruit: Make sure the “fit” is right before you commit to a school.

November 6th can’t get here soon enough

Look, it’s only August. We’re still a long way from the start of formal practice, from the first poll being released, and – yes – the first game of the season. But one thing is abundantly clear: Kentucky vs. Duke will be THE game of the first few weeks of the college basketball season. Whether these two teams are ranked No.’s 1 and 2 or not isn’t what’s important. What is important is that these are the two most high-profile teams in college basketball and both are absolutely loaded going into the season.

We have plenty of time over the next four months to break down every aspect of this game.

But just know one thing: November 6th can’t get here fast enough.


(Photo by Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

After facing Kentucky, South Carolina alum Duane Notice buys the hype

(Photo by Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Team Toronto guard Duane Notice knows great Kentucky teams. The former SEC Sixth Man of the Year played for South Carolina from 2013-17, during which he faced the Cats five times. After his team lost to Kentucky 93-60 in the Bahamas on Sunday, Notice told his teammates that these Cats have what it takes to go far.

The key is they know how to play the game and play the game right,” Notice told reporters. “I told my teammates they’ll be very good in the SEC. I think they’ll go far because of how hard they play. They gave effort. We’re not playing for anything here, except for your pride, so the fact that they played hard, not even having Coach Cal on the bench, means a lot to me as a young player. As a player that obviously played college basketball, looking back on it, it means a lot.”

Notice faced the 38-1 Kentucky team twice during his time at South Carolina, and said this team’s length is reminiscent of that great squad.

“I think they’ve very long. Obviously, I played against Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein, those guys. These guys are long, from one to five. That’s the difference. Even their wing players are very aggressive and they’re very long. They can get on the offensive glass and they really know how to move the ball.”

Notice scored a team-high 20 points for Team Toronto on Sunday, but said Kentucky’s young guards put him to the test, particularly Immanuel Quickley.

“They all played solid. They all played well and made good plays, especially on defense. I was impressed with No. 5 [Immanuel Quickley], he was picking me up full court. I feel like that’s very good, especially as a guy like myself who likes defense, just to live up to the challenge. No. 14, [Tyler] Herro, I heard his name throughout the summer, just to see that he lived up to the hype is a pretty good thing.”

It’s easy to discount Kentucky’s competition in the Bahamas, but that’s high praise from someone who helped lead South Carolina to the Final Four in 2017 and ranks 16th on their all-time scoring list (1,409 points).


Kentucky knocks off North Carolina to advance to title game in March Madness poll

Down goes North Carolina.

Doing the unimaginable, your two-seed Kentucky Wildcats have knocked off the one-seed North Carolina Tar Heels to secure a spot in the National Championship!

……..in a Twitter poll.

Kentucky’s five-man lineup of John Wall, Tony Delk, Tayshaun Prince, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins took down UNC’s bunch of Kenny Smith, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Tyler Hansbrough, and James Worthy. The Cats received 55 percent of a total 40,168 votes, compared to North Carolina’s 45 percent.

They will take on either (1) UCLA or (4) Florida in the national championship, which will be officially announced tomorrow.

UCLA’s all-time team consists of Russell Westbrook, Gail Goodrich, Reggie Miller, Bill Walton, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while the Gators have Erving Walker, Bradley Beal, Chandler Parsons, Al Horford, and Joakim Noah.

If you’re really dying to, you can vote for that below:

No matter what the haters say, the Big Blue Nation doesn’t lose in meaningless Twitter polls.


Kahlil Whitney ranked No. 3 in 2020 NBA mock draft

Kahlil Whitney ranked No. 3 in 2020 NBA mock draft

We may be just a few months away from our first official game of the 2018-19 Kentucky basketball season, but one prospect in particular is gaining NBA Draft hype for 2020.

Kahlil Whitney, UK’s most recent commitment for the class of 2019, is listed as the No. 3 overall prospect in one 2020 NBA mock draft.

Whitney joins three other Wildcats in the first round, and six total selections. There are also several major Kentucky targets on the list.

Kentucky’s top-ranked recruit, Tyrese Maxey, comes in at No. 7 overall to the Sacramento Kings, where he’d join De’Aaron Fox, Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Wenyen Gabriel. Having five Wildcats on a single roster would be pretty darn fun, if I must say so myself.

Wildcat target James Wiseman is listed just above Whitney at No. 2, while Vernon Carey Jr. and Cole Anthony are expected to go No. 5 and No. 6, respectively.

Oscar Tshiebwe, a consensus four-star center and rumored Kentucky favorite, also lands (surprisingly) in the top-20. He would join Hamidou Diallo in Oklahoma City.

Beyond that point, things get a little funky.

No offense to NBADraft.net, but the odds of Keldon Johnson sticking around for two seasons, let alone falling to No. 27, are extremely slim. There’s a solid chance he finds himself in the top-ten in the 2019 NBA Draft as Kentucky’s top prospect.

Beyond Johnson, Ashton Hagans likely projects better in the league than Immanuel Quickley, and I’d be surprised if they both play for two years at Kentucky. One, maybe.

If this turned out true, that means Sophomore Nick Richards would turn into Junior Nick Richards, which just wouldn’t be fair for college basketball. If you ask John Calipari, scouts are already in love with the seven-footer’s ability to run the floor, block shots, and convert on easy buckets around the rim. If he can put it together this season, I’m not so sure we see an extra season out of Richards.

Looking at their 2019 mock draft, PJ Washington is the only Kentucky player taken, joining Bam Adebayo in Miami at No. 46 overall. Reid Travis went undrafted.

EJ Montgomery, Tyler Herro, Quade Green, and Jemarl Baker weren’t listed on either mock.

If it works out to where we get two seasons of Johnson, Hagans, and Quickley, three years of Richards, Montgomery, and Herro, and four with Baker and Green, I think the Big Blue Nation would be perfectly happy with that.

Will it happen? Absolutely not.


Fan Favorite Results: You all really, really like Tyler Herro

Big Blue Nation has spoken.

Tyler Herro is the fan favorite following the team’s four games in the Bahamas.

Herro won our fan poll by an overwhelming margin, taking over half of the votes from the response. The freshman scoring machine received 4,077 of the 7,398 votes placed, almost 3,000 more than the next closest vote getter.

Here are the full results from the poll:

Tyler Herro 55% (4,077)
Keldon Johnson 16% (1,180)
P.J. Washington 10% (739)
Nick Richards 5% (404)
Ashton Hagans 3% (217)
Reid Travis 3% (217)
Quade Green 2% (160)
Immanuel Quickley 2% (115)
Jonny David 1% (102)
Jemarl Baker 1% (94)
Brad Calipari 1% (61)
EJ Montgomery 0% (32)

I can’t say I’m surprised Herro took the top spot, but to receive 55 percent of the votes? That’s impressive given the amount of talent on the roster.