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University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.





March 21st, 2019

Have you signed up for the KSR Bracket Challenge?

Time is running out to join the KSR Bracket Challenge! Think you can do better than the KSR crew? Now is your chance to find out. Head to KSR’s challenge page and make your picks. Simply fill out your bracket and enjoy the games. Winners of the KSR Bracket Challenge have a chance at some great prizes:

**A houseboat dream vacation package courtesy of State Dock

**Gift package from Clayton & Crume

**Gift card from Barleycorn’s 

**Gift card from Kentucky Branded

Thanks to our partners for the great prize packages. Picks must be made by noon on March 21st. Enjoy and good luck!

[Full prize description here]

[JOIN NOW: KSR Bracket Challenge now live!]


March 20th, 2019

Calipari addresses UCLA rumor, plans to retire at Kentucky

BBN, you can exhale. John Calipari isn’t going anywhere.

On Wednesday afternoon, rumors began circulating Coach Calipari showed “serious interest” in leaving UK to accept the UCLA head coaching job. Wednesday night, Calipari took to Twitter to respond to the speculation. He wrote:

“Before I go to bed, let me just say this: I’m coaching at the [University] of Kentucky. In my opinion, there is no better job in the world to coach basketball. My plan and my desire is to retire at Kentucky. I think the university feels the same as I do and we’ve talked openly about it.”

Whew. Rick Pitino, the Bruins’ job is all yours. In the mean time, the BBN should take Coach Cal’s advice:


@MaggieDavisKSR


KSR’s Top 10 tweets of the Day presented by Liquor Barn

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You can be a part of KSR’s Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.

If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.

#10 Coach Cal

Bucket.

#9 Sarabeth Taite

#BBN better cop the album!

#8 Dontaie Allen

From one bucket to another.

#7 Tyler Warfel

Looks like the celebration of Purim is going well.

#6 Karen Miller

Will you decorate my house?

#5 Brandon Henry

A tradition, unlike anyother.. ho hum.

#4 KySweetheart17

I have no words and need no further context.

#3 David Scott

Blue. Gets. In.

#2 Josh Mullen

Whoever did this edit needs a lot of money.

#1 KY Clips

*Narrator’s voice* It was a great story.


Follow me on twitter and tag me in one of your tweets for a chance to make KSR’s top 10 tweets: @BrentW_KSR


WATCH: John Calipari prepares his team for March

It’s March, which means anything could happen. I know it, you know it and John Calipari knows it. Now, it’s his job to make sure his team knows it. How does he do that? The Kentucky Basketball twitter account just gave us a sneak peak into today’s practice (plus a piece of Cal’s motivational speech of the day).

In the video, Calipari reminds the players every team in the NCAA Tournament has an opportunity to advance. They can’t let their guard down in games, which means they can’t let their guard down in practice.

All the flattery is out the door now,” Calipari says. “Now, you’ve gotta go perform. Get yourself ready.”

The video appears to have been taken during today’s practice in Jacksonville, and PJ Washington does not make an appearance. However, Calipari still expects him to play.


Get to know UK Football rookie Jared Casey

When Jared Casey flipped his commitment from the University of Oregon to the University of Kentucky, he instantly became one of the biggest names in the Cats’ incoming recruiting class. Plus, he’s from right here in the Bluegrass State (Louisville, no less) and has relatively-high national rankings, meaning he’s only continued to move up that list.

Casey was ranked as a four-star prospect by all of the major recruiting services, and Rivals lists him as the No. 15 outside linebacker in America. He finished his senior season at Ballard with 70 tackles, 15.5 tackles-for-loss, three sacks and one forced fumble in 11 games. There’s no rest for the weary – instead of enjoying his last semester of high school, Casey became one of nine players who enrolled at UK in the spring to start working out and practicing alongside his teammates.

Maybe you knew all of that already. Now, you can learn a little more about the incoming freshman, thanks to our friends in the UK Athletics media department.

In his intro video, Casey reveals who serves as his biggest influence (on and off the field), why he chose to enroll at UK a semester early and what made playing for Kentucky the best choice for him.

This is my favorite line from Casey:

“I think it’s a big opportunity to play in my home state, to play in the best league in America and come in early and contribute.”

Sounds like a heck of a plan. Get on board, BBN, because Jared Casey means business.


@MaggieDavisKSR


Hey Kentucky! with the ACU head coach, Joe Golding

Tonight, Matt Jones and Hey Kentucky interview America’s sweetheart, also known as Abilene Christian University’s head coach, Joe Golding.

He’ll talk about his team’s reaction to making the NCAA Tournament for the first time, what makes John Calipari such a great coach and his game plan for beating Kentucky (hint: it starts with keeping PJ Washington in a boot).

Matt and Ryan host the rest of the show in front of UK’s open practice, and some of the players even come to photobomb! They’ll also talk about Matt Bevin, chicken pox and the Thriller parade (what else could you want?!).

Click HERE for the full episode.


Five Double-Digit Seeds Who Can Pull an NCAA Tourney Upset

Besides rooting for your own team, the best part of the NCAA Tournament is the upsets. At the end of the day, and at the end of the tournament, it’s basically all we remember besides the national champion. In six months or five years, no one (outside of each team’s fans) will remember if Syracuse made the Sweet 16 or Texas Tech the Elite Eight. But we always remember the Loyola of Chicago’s and Nevada’s and George Mason’s.

Therefore, with the brackets now a couple days old, it’s time to talk upsets. Everyone wants to know which lower seeded teams could pull of a surprise win or two – which is exactly why I’m here today.

To be clear, I’m not saying all these teams will pull an upset, just that they are capable of it.

Here are five double-digit seeds that could win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament.

Midwest Region: No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Auburn (Thursday, 1:30 p.m. ET)

The Aggies have one of the wildest stories in all of college basketball this season. After making the NCAA Tournament last year (where they lost to Clemson in the first round), New Mexico State lost basically their entire team – 10 players in total. Head coach Chris Jans brought in a bunch of guys, but by the time the season started he still really had no idea who was good and who wasn’t. No one had separated themselves in practice, no one had emerged as a star. Nothing.

So he decided to play just about everybody on his roster, assuming it would sort itself out. But then a funny thing happened: Nobody really stood out, but the Aggies kept winning. So Jans stuck with it.

It led to where we are today, where the Aggies have fourteen different players – FOURTEEN – who average at least 10 minutes of playing time a game, with just one player averaging double-figures in scoring. It’s also what makes New Mexico State a logistical nightmare to prepare for: They have so many guys, that you never really know who can beat you on any given night. They also aren’t susceptible to foul trouble, and aren’t really susceptible to one bad game from one player costing them. If one guy has an off night, there are five ready to step into his place.

Add it all up, and New Mexico State is a team that won’t be worn down by Auburn’s fast-paced style and won’t be scared if the Tigers knock down a few threes – since New Mexico State plays nearly as fast, and shoots nearly as many three’s as Auburn. On the season, Auburn ranked fourth nationally in three-point shot attempts. New Mexico State, eighth.

New Mexico State has been to seven of the last eight NCAA Tournaments, but has yet to pick up a win.

Is this the season it finally happens?

West Region: No. 12 Murray State vs. No. 5 Marquette (Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET)

Look, we all know the story of this game: It’s Marquette’s Markus Howard vs. Murray State’s Ja Morant. They’re arguably the two best guards in this tournament and are certainly the two highest scorers. Howard averaged 25 points per game this season, while Morant averaged 24.6. That, to go along with 10 assists per game, which led the nation.

That’s also why I like Murray State so much: They have the best player on the floor, and arguably, the best player in this tournament not named “Zion Williamson.” Morant has proven time and time again that even when teams have time to game-plan for him that he is still unstoppable. Remember, he had 36 points in the Ohio Valley Championship game against Belmont (an NCAA Tournament team), and also played arguably his two best games against the two Power 5 teams that Murray State played this season. Morant dropped a staggering 38 points against Alabama (to the point that he got a standing ovation from the crowd at Coleman Coliseum when the game ended), and had 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists at Auburn as well.

So if Morant can do that against Auburn and Alabama, why can’t he do that against Marquette? Especially when you consider that Marquette has been abysmal down the stretch, losing their last four regular season games and five of six overall.

Honestly, I’m not even sure this would be an “upset” at this point.

South Region: No. 11 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 6 Villanova (Thursday, 7:20 p.m. ET)

Saint Mary’s shocked the college basketball world when they upset Gonzaga to clinch the WCC automatic bid. In the process they sent Twitter into a frenzy, with America demanding to know how Gonzaga could possibly get a No. 1 seed after that game.

But while the story became about the Zags, what it overshadowed was that Saint Mary’s has been playing insanely well of late. Prior to that win, they had won nine of their previous 11 games, with the only losses coming to Gonzaga. Literally, against everyone other than Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s had won every game since late January. And they avenged that loss in big-time fashion, putting on the best defensive effort of the season against the Zags. Not bad, considering Gonzaga played North Carolina, Duke and Tennessee in the regular season.

On the flip side, I know it feels weird to bet against the defending national champions at Villanova, but just know this: In each of the last two seasons, the defending champion hasn’t gotten out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Last year North Carolina (the 2017 champ) lost to Texas A&M in the second round of the Big Dance, and in 2017, Villanova (which won the title the season before) lost in the second round to Wisconsin.

And when you add that in with the fact that Villanova lost four of its final six regular season games, and that Jay Wright has only gotten out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament twice in the last 10 NCAA Tournaments (incredibly, he went on to win the national title in each of those instances), this one feels like it’s way more probable than a lot of people realize.

South Region: No. 13 UC-Irvine vs. No. 4 Kansas State (Friday, 2:00 p.m. ET)

If you’ve been following me on Twitter (and if you haven’t, shame on you) you know that I think the world of UC-Irvine coach Russell Turner. “Man-crush” might be a bit strong. But I did have to restrain from sending him a card on his birthday.

Yes, I’m kidding. I think.

Honestly though, on the court the guy is just a stone-cold stud. He’s won 20 or more games in six of the last seven years, an insane run for a mid-major coach. He has also finished in first or second in his league each of the last five seasons. Usually a coach gets a bigger job before he can have that kind of sustained success.

Of course there’s a reason that he hasn’t gotten that big job yet: The Anteaters (yes, that’s UC-Irvine’s nickname) only made one NCAA Tournament during that stretch, where they lost to Louisville in the first round (they’re the team with Mamadou N’Diaye. Remember him?). And really, that is UC-Irvine’s problem: If you’re a mid-major, it’s hard to get noticed if you don’t make the NCAA Tournament and win games.

That’s also why I’m so bullish on them this season: This is a veteran team, with five senior starters, who have won a ton of games and aren’t afraid of anyone. And they’ve finally broken through in the NCAA Tournament, after years of knocking on the door but not quite getting there.

Two other reasons why I like this pick: One, Kansas State is less than 100 percent, as forward Dean Wade is still recovering from a foot injury. As it stands, it looks like he won’t play in this game.

And two, this game tips off at 11 a.m. local time in California. Kansas State probably already doesn’t want to be in San Jose, and certainly doesn’t care about the opponent. And now they have to play at 11 a.m.? I can’t imagine they’ll be too excited for that.

South Region: No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 5 Wisconsin (Friday, 4:50 ET)

It’s funny because in a vacuum I really do like Wisconsin, and thought they were a team which could make a nice, solid run to the Sweet 16. Then I saw their draw. And I hate everything about it.

The bottom line is that Oregon is red-hot after taking home the Pac-12 title and winning eight straight games, and is the exact kind of team that will give Wisconsin problems. They are hyper-athletic, with NBA bodies and play lights out defense. Incredibly, they have opponents to just 54 points per game during that eight-game win streak, a number which actually skews high after going to overtime in the Pac-12 semifinals. Take that game out, and they’re allowing just 51 points per game over the same stretch.

Point being, Oregon is hot, playing its best ball of the season and is a stylistic nightmare for Wisconsin.

I’m not calling the upset 100 percent.

But it’s absolutely in play here.


Random Notes From The Arena In Jacksonville

There isn’t a lot to say about Kentucky’s open practice Wednesday afternoon. It was fun for the fans who were there, but there isn’t much excitement to report to the fans back home. It was the usual pre-tournament open practice: the guys went through some very basic drills, waved to the fans and then exited the court one last time before tomorrow night’s game. But I’ll still share with you some general thoughts and observations from the area…

 

“It’s a dream come true” for the players.

“I think it’s a dream come true for all of us,” said Tyler Herro. “Obviously coming to Kentucky, the coaching staff and just being at Kentucky is going to be the biggest stage in college basketball. We’re just happy to be here. As a team I think we’re ready to go, and just ready to attack this tournament.”

Ashton Hagans added, “Just growing up watching this on TV and now getting the chance to play in this tournament, it’s a big confidence thing, and we’re just ready to come in and play.”

Keldon Johnson said the team is, “regrouped and refocused and locked in.”

Former Cat Stacey Poole brought his new high school team to UK’s practice.

Poole is now the head coach at North Florida Educational Institute in Jacksonville and he brought his entire team out to watch his old college team practice. Once Calipari saw Poole in the crowd, he left the court to catch up with his old player.

Poole was a member of Kentucky’s 2011 Final Four team and then began the 2011-12 season with the Cats before transferring midseason to Georgia Tech.

The Cats are VERY relaxed.

After spending 15 or so minutes in the locker room around the team, it’s clear this group is here to have fun and ready to get going. Keldon Johnson seemed the most loose because he was more worried about getting the mic for the all-access video than he was talking to reporters about his first tournament.

Calipari is also very loose and having way too much.

If you want to feel good about the status of PJ Washington, look no further than how John Calipari is carrying himself this week. He is the swaggiest version of himself and the complete opposite of how he would be if he were overly concerned about his star player. Cal is having a blast down here and still defending himself about surviving in the wilderness in Alaska. Once he learned his players doubt he could make it on his own in the Alaskan frontier, Cal said, “They truly don’t know me. I probably would struggle wrestling a bear, but other than that, I could live off the grid.”

Abilene Christian’s coach is going to be hard to root against tomorrow night.

Did you see what he said about only owning two suits and leaving one at the airport and tearing a hole in the pants of the other? How can you not like that guy? Then he did an interview with Hey Kentucky that will be on the show and online later tonight and he was so excited to do it. He is exactly the way you would be if you were coaching a small school playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. All fun and living it up. I heard there morning practice was a blast too. Is it ok to like Abilene Christian?

Couple of Action Network links for you:

Early this morning, my story on Kentucky’s path to the tournament went up on the Action Network. You can read it here and I’d really appreciate it if you did. I wrote it in the backseat of the KSUV on the way down last night.

The debut of our new show, “Two Guys, One Pick,” is also online now. You can find each one on Twitter via me (@DrewFranklinKSR) or Matt (@KySportsRadio) or the Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ). Here is an example of one that has already been released:

And with that, I’m off to see what Jacksonville has to offer. Tonight feels like a good night to celebrate some life things.

Go Cats.