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The Sweet Sixteen, Day One and Recruiting News

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Congratulations to Louisville, North Carolina, UCLA and Xavier for moving on to the final 8 contests in the NCAA tournament last night.  I don't know about you guys, but Joe Alexander of West Virgina reminds me very much of Patrick Patterson with his great post presence, midrange game and passing ability.  To me, the two look like twin sons of different mothers.  What a fun game it would be to have them go against each other at full strength.

I haven't seen UCLA play much this year, but Kevin Love is just a joy to watch.  He isn't the most athletic or quick big man in the world, but his "basketball IQ" is off the charts.  He is the kind of guy that gets the absolute most out of what God gave him, and that is always fun to see.  I am also proud of my alma mater, Western, for hanging in there against the mighty Bruins despite a horrible night shooting the basketball.

Speaking of horrible nights shooting the basketball, I saw a Tennessee team last night I have not seen all year.  The Volunteers played perhaps the worst game of the year against a Louisville team that is unquestionably peaking at the right time.  The Cardinals simply handed the Vols their hind parts, and Tennessee continues to fail to win the games that matter at the end of the season.  I'm sure that won't continue forever, but it is instructive that no Tennessee team in history has made it to the final eight, a feat Kentucky accomplished thrice in the last 10 years, which is rather below our standards.  Despite Bruce Pearl's hype and talent, the Volunteer program still has a ways to go in basketball, it seems.

North Carolina simply dominated a Washington State team assisted by the defensive technique that every coach would love to master -- a lid on the basket.  Despite getting many good looks, the Cougars simply failed to get the orange ball through the ring, and as a result, they got pounded by the Tarheels, who had no such difficulty.  So now, two teams will meet this weekend who are playing their best basketball right now -- Louisville and North Carolina.  That one should be a winner, and quite frankly, I can't predict who will come out on top.  The Cardinals simply played great defense against Tennessee last night, and David Padgett and Terrance Williams continue to impress with their stellar play.  If you are like me, you feel some pangs of angst watching two of your most bitter foes tee it up in the final eight of the tournament, but that's the way life is, I guess.

The Xavier-UCLA matchup is also interesting.  I think this Xavier team has what it takes to send the Bruins home, but they will have to bring a much better floor game to that party than they did last night.  Bob Huggins' matchup zone really put the Musketeers on their heels in the second half, and that should be worrisome for them moving on to play the defensive-minded Bruins.  You have to say this has been a great run by Ben Howland, getting into the final four in each of the last two years and knocking at the door yet again.



Moving on to recruiting, I found a few interesting things out there on Al Gore's Folly today.  First up is this article in the Birmingham News.  Apparently, Robert Vaden (you remember Vaden -- they guy who torched us for about 30 in a UAB come-from-behind victory over UK in Louisville last year?) is thinking about moving on to the Association.  So now, Mike Davis thinks the main target of current UK fan lust, Scotty Hopson, may be the answer.  Can we add yet another suitor for Hopson's services to his currently long and growing list?  Stay tuned.

But lest you think that is all the Hopson news, it isn't.  The Mississippi State Bulldogs fan site, Sixpackspeak.com, has an interview with Hopson which I found interesting, but not particularly revealing.  After reading it, I came to the conclusion that Kentucky probably has too much ground to make up, but you never know.  In the end, he says that all the schools, "about equal", and Texas seems likely to get a visit.  No mention of UAB, though.

In other recruiting news, Brad Tinsley has pared down his list to seven schools, and Kentucky is not one of them.  Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the UK women's team advanced to the final eight of the Women's NIT last night, and will face none other than Marquette in the next game.  Talk about your karma.