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Kentucky basketball, men's and women's, taking center stage beginning on Saturday

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Matthew Mitchell has led UK Hoops to a school record-tying 21-3 start to the 2011-12 season. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Matthew Mitchell has led UK Hoops to a school record-tying 21-3 start to the 2011-12 season. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
Even for a program boasting a storied basketball history, the 2011-12 season has been a banner one for University of Kentucky basketball.

The men's team sits at 24-1 and is a nearly unanimous choice as the nation's No. 1. UK Hoops, led by Matthew Mitchell, has tied a school record with a 21-3 start. Combining the two, UK is one of just two schools in the NCAA with both its men's and women's team ranked in the top seven of both major polls.

Neither team has lost a home game all season, helping both teams to reach the top of the standings in the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky is one of just five schools, along with Wichita State, San Diego State, Mississippi Valley State and Middle Tennessee State, that can claim sole possession of first place in its conference in both men's and women's basketball.

The two teams have been showered with attention in light of their success, but the spotlight is about to shine just a little brighter beginning this weekend.

Both teams will take the floor in featured games over a three-day period beginning with the men's team's trip to Nashville, Tenn., to face Vanderbilt. The game will be featured this week on ESPN's College Gameday, with the broadcast going from 10 a.m. to noon.

On Saturday night at 9 p.m., the Cats and Commodores will hit the floor in Memorial Gymnasium as Vanderbilt tries to win its fifth straight home game against a No. 1 ranked opponent. ESPN's biggest names and personalities will be on hard for the festivities, including Dick Vitale and Erin Andrews.

The Gameday crew won't be in attendance on Monday when the UK women take on No. 11 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., but the stakes will be even higher. Kentucky, up a game over the Lady Volunteers in the loss column, will look to solidify its top spot in the SEC race with a win and pull off a rare regular-season sweep of Pat Summitt's team. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.

The two games will be on the road, but the Wildcats' primetime placement is proof that nobody does basketball quite like the Bluegrass State.

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