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From the Pressbox: Notes for a season opener

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This year marks the first time since 2002 that Kentucky opens the season away from the friendly confines of Rupp Arena. And Friday's game in Brooklyn, vs. Maryland, is followed by a trip to Atlanta Tuesday night, to face Duke.    

More than a few times in recent months, John Calipari has warned Big Blue fans that his fourth Kentucky team could start the season 0-2. ESPN's Andy Katz agrees with Coach Cal.

"Kentucky has more talent than both of those teams combined, but those teams will be more ready for an early-season game like this (because of experience)," Katz noted in a recent appearance on "The Leach Report" radio show.

Katz pointed out that Michigan State lost its first two games last season and still captured a share of the Big Ten title and gained a number one seed on Selection Sunday. And with games at Notre Dame and Louisville on the non-conference slate, Katz says UK could lose all four of those games and yet still make it to the Final Four.

Dortch on UK seeking a veteran presence

When Chris Dortch looks at the Kentucky team about to start a new college basketball season, his biggest question is not about the freshmen joining the program but about the veterans.

"Who's going to step up? I don't know that they would have won it all without Darius Miller."

The editor of the comprehensive Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook believes Kyle Wiltjer can answer that call.

"I think Kyle Wiltjer is a guy who can really step up his game," Dortch said. "I think he's got as versatile of an offensive game as you'll see in college basketball. It's going to be interesting to me to see if he can take it to the next level. I think he can."

UK, Maryland share big-game histories

Kentucky and Maryland were on the losing ends of what were arguably the two greatest games in college basketball history.

Cat fans know we're talking about the 1992 epic battle with Duke in the NCAA East Region final. For Maryland, that game came in the 1974 ACC Tournament title game, as North Carolina State beat the Terrapins 103-100 in overtime.

In '74, only the league champion made it to the NCAA Tourney field and that NC State-Maryland classic, many believe, provided the push the NCAA folks needed to expand the tournament and allow leagues to send more than one team - putting us on the road to today's version of March Madness.

Cats, Terps both boast past top picks

Kentucky and Maryland are two of only 10 schools that can say they have had two players chosen first overall in the NBA draft.

At UK, both were recent - John Wall in 2010 and Anthony Davis earlier this summer.  At Maryland, it was John Lucas in 1976 and Joe Smith in 1995.

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