Like most UK fans, I tend to root for teams in the state of Kentucky whenever they aren’t playing UK (with one obvious exception). Whenever Western, Eastern, Northern or any other directional based state school enjoys athletic success it makes me happy. I wouldn’t say I am a fan, but I root for them. As we approach the opening game against Morehead State, it is time to check up on the OVC and get a bead on how the opponent looks. Is Morehead a sacrificial lamb that is just looking for a paycheck or are they a legitimate school that will help UK build their skills and play a competitive game?
Pre-season predictions have Morehead and Murray favored to win the OVC with Eastern finishing in 5th place. We aren’t playing the dregs of the OVC, and four of the starters from last years NCAA tournament team have returned to Morehead. Aaron posted a link last night to a Tipton article that gauges the feelings of the MSU coach and players. They do the typical poor-mouthing of themselves and whip out the self flagellation (and whenever someone whips out the flagellation, it is always a good idea to duck). The fact remains that this team took Louisville on in the NCAA tournament and went into the half trailing by just 2 points. That was just 8 months ago.
On Monday, Murray State played #12 California to a virtual standstill before losing 75-70. While Murray was facing off against decent competition, Morehead hosted a battle of the Eagles and bible thumped the team from Wilmore in a 34 point rout. Basing everything on hype and comparative analysis, if Murray can play with the #12 team in the nation and Morehead is supposed to be better than Murray, then the Cats should face some decent competition on Friday. Look for Morehead to keep it closer than it should be for most of the first half while UK works out its rotation. In the second half, the talent and bench disparity should overtake the Eagles and the Wildcats will pull away with a double digit win.
I will add that it is games like this where I am happy that UK has a competent coach. I am all for teaching lessons during early season games with the caveat that you eventually win those games. Stubborn adherence to a philosophy or proving a point to a player should only go so far lest you end up losing to the likes of VMI and Gardner-Webb. I have no doubt that if Clyde was still coach that Morehead would beat the Cats. Happy days are here again, people. Rejoice.