Saturday is the day when we’ll find out if Kentucky will finish the regular season undefeated. The Lexington, Ky., Playaz head west some 80 miles on Interstate 64 to meet Louisville at the Pitino Palace. It should be a wild scene.
The Playaz were devastating against UCLA Saturday, scoring the first 24 points of the game. UCLA is a Pac 12 contender and almost assuredly headed to the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins just couldn’t compete. Louisville will be playing at home, which should help. The Cardinals are a tremendous team that’s won their first 10 games.
Can they win? Yes. Will they win? No.
Kentucky’s going undefeated.
This week’s report:
Elevator going up
Cal: The Bears are 10-1, their best start since 1959-60. That team was coached by the legendary Pete Newell and reached the NCAA championship game. A big challenge is ahead Monday night as Wisconsin comes to Berkeley. Cuonzo Martin can coach and he’s proving it in his first season.
Central Michigan: The Chippewas are 7-1 for the first time since 1974-75 after beating Northwestern. That was the Chips first win over a Big Ten team since 2007.
Maryland: The Terps are stunning 11-1 after a decisive 73-64 victory over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Mark Turgeon was on the hot seat before the season started; not anymore.
Virginia: The Cavaliers’ 76-27 victory over Harvard was surreal. The Crimson are good but could do nothing against Virginia’s vise-like defense. That isn’t even the lowest point total the Cavs have allowed this season; they beat Rutgers 45-26. They are 11-0 and hold teams to 31 percent shooting (and 27 percent on 3-pointers). Virginia, along with Villanova, are two serious Final Four candidates that I don’t have in the Final Four right now.
Washington: The Huskies are 10-0, their best start in eight years, after a big neutral-court victory over Oklahoma in Las Vegas.
West Virginia: Bob Huggins had had some problems with players coming and going, and not much was expected this season. History tells us his teams usually win and his surprising Mountaineers are 10-1.
Escalator going down
Arizona State: It’s one thing to lose at Marquette — these days that’s not great either — but then the Sun Devils came home and got beat by Lehigh in three overtimes.
Houston: The once-proud program would be looking up from the bottom of the standings of the SWAC and MEAC after losing to Arkansas Pine Bluff and South Carolina State back-to-back. New coach Kelvin Sampson needs to get on the phone and recruit some players.
Miami: The Hurricanes had the look of a possible surprise team, but then they lost at home to Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels are well coached by Jeff Neubauer, but are only 6-4.
Michigan State: Earlier in the season, Tom Izzo mocked himself for making the Spartans’ schedule so difficult. The Spartans might have bigger problems than the schedule after losing to Texas Southern Saturday. Southern has one thing going for it, coach Mike Davis, who used to coach Indiana, but the Tigers were 1-8 coming into the game.
Missouri: Kim Anderson was a controversial choice as coach and he’s giving his critics plenty to moan about after losing at home to Xavier and then dropping a rivalry game to Illinois on a late 3-pointer.
Mississippi State: Things are heading south quick in Starksville; the Bulldogs are 5-5 but have lost five in a row, including consecutive losses to Arkansas State and USC Upstate.
This week’s Final Four: Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin, Gonzaga.
This week’s national champion: Kentucky.