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Game day links: Cats vs. Cards

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It's gameday in the Bluegrass as one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports rekindles in Louisville, Ky. this afternoon. As usual, the matchup is getting a lot of attention not only in the state, but across the country. Here are a few links to get you ready, if for whatever reason you aren't already, for today's game:

Battle of the Bluegrass | How the Cardinals and Wildcats match up
(Kyle Tucker and C.L. Brown, Louisville Courier-Journal)

There seems to be a tendency for role players on both sides to have breakout performances in this game. Last year it was Russ Smith dropping a career-high 30 points for U of L. The year before that it was Josh Harrellson's career-best 23 points and 14 rebounds for UK. Who could it be today?

CATS VS. CARDS: UK leaning on instincts against Louisville
(Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader)

Looking on the bright side, Kentucky Coach John Calipari suggested that Louisville's signature style of pressure defense and the ability to create a chaotic game can help his freshman-dependent team.

"The good news for us is this is a game of less plays and more players making plays," Calipari said Friday. "That plays to our favor. It's less having to do with execution, which we are really too young to be a great execution team. And it's more reacting to three-on-two, two-on-one, four-on-three. Attacking the basket. Stuff we do better."

This true-blue Wildcat fan Jarrod Polson is living out his childhood fantasy (Kyle Tucker, Louisville Courier-Journal)

Polson is the counterargument to Woods' controversial comments this season when the former Cat said the current players don't know or appreciate the program's history. There was some merit to his point, illustrated by one UK player saying he'd never heard of Christian Laettner's infamous buzzer-beater that cost the Cats a spot in the 1992 Final Four.

UK coach John Calipari recruits mostly one-and-dones, elite players who spend less than a year on campus before bolting to the NBA, and he scours the nation for them. The team's top seven players this year are from seven different states -- all outside the Bluegrass. Naturally, they didn't grow up on Wildcats basketball. But Polson did.

At UK, Calipari has been master of rivals (Mark Story, Lexington Herald-Leader)

If the "experts" are right, Louisville and Rick Pitino are finally going to show Kentucky and John Calipari that payback can be hell (or swell, depending on perspective) Saturday afternoon in the KFC Yum Center. Should that prove so, it will end -- or at least interrupt -- what has been one of the great periods of "rivalry dominance" in Kentucky history.

For the teams UK fans most yearn to beat, John Calipari has so far put the "L" in "rivalry."

The Commonwealth's great divide (Dane O'Neil, ESPN.com)

Duke and North Carolina loyalists might disagree; Yankees and Red Sox devotees have a decent argument, too. But the Blue Devils and Tar Heels move on for most of the other 363 days of the year. Boston and New York have Connecticut as a buffer.

Aside from maybe Alabama and Auburn football, it is hard to find such yearlong enmity breeding and cultivating within the state borders like Kentucky. It is like a border-to-border Petri dish of festering vitriol and disdain.

And nowhere does the sickness exist as feverishly as it does in Louisville.


Weekend Watch: Kentucky-Louisville (Jay Bilas, ESPN.com)

On the offensive end, much depends upon the point guard position. When Ryan Harrow is in control and plays in a mentally tough fashion, others are freed up to do what they do best without concern. When Harrow is scattered, it affects everyone. Archie Goodwin is the best scorer; Alex Poythress is the best wing offensive rebounder and most ferocious in attacking the rim; and Nerlens Noel is the best interior offensive rebounder and shot-blocker and is most active on both ends.

Role reversal for latest Calipari-Pitino bout (Jeff Drummond, Scout.com)

When college basketball magazines started hitting the newsstands this summer, many featured Kentucky and Louisville on the cover with predictions that the Wildcats and Cardinals would battle for a No. 1 national ranking en route to another potential high-stakes clash in the Final Four.

Much has changed since those magazines were first released, at least for half of Saturday's matchup at Louisville's KFC Yum! Center.


Kentucky-Louisville rivalry: From the Russdiculous to the Harrowing, big questions to be answered Saturday (Mike DeCourcy, SportingNews.com)

You don't really believe I'm going to make a prediction on that, do you? I will say it will be the single most intriguing element of Saturday's game.
 
Harrow wasn't really there for any of UK's biggest games to date. Against Maryland, Duke and Notre Dame, he played a total of 19 minutes. His absence has been explained only cryptically. It is suspected the weight of expectations as Kentucky point guard was a lot for him to bear. It will be more so when Louisville, with more than 20,000 Cardinals fans screaming, slaps some full-court pressure in his face.

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