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Big Blue Nation Linkapalooza: Edge of the Sweet Sixteen Edition

The Sweet Sixteen begins tomorrow.  Hold on to your butts ....
The Sweet Sixteen begins tomorrow. Hold on to your butts ....

Trying to reason with tournament season. As we trundle toward the Sweet Sixteen tomorrow, are you feeling anxious, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation? Are you excited? I know I am.

Today's links:

Sweet 16 Thoughts And Observations // Barking Carnival

Some pretty good stuff here.

2012 NCAA tournament -- A first look at the Sweet 16 field // ESPN

• It quelled any doubts about freshman point guard Marquis Teague being this team's lone vulnerability. Teague dropped a 24-point, seven-assist, four-rebound smoke show Saturday, and he did it against an above-average Big 12 defense that had played admirably well against the likes of Kansas, Baylor and Missouri this season. If Teague, the nation's No. 1 point guard recruit in 2011, is playing like that -- even if he's merely playing solid, turnover-averse, facilitative basketball -- the Cats go from heavy favorite to national title virtual lock. They will have no weaknesses. For everyone else in the bracket, that is an entirely horrifying thought.

Horrifying? Really?

UK Great Tim Couch Honored On New Maker's Mark Charitable Bottle //

As Keeneland and Maker's Mark embark on the 16th edition of its signature charitable bottle series to raise money for charity, the two are once again teaming up to honor and support their friends at UK HealthCare. This year's bottle will celebrate UK football great Tim Couch, whose likeness will be featured on the bottle this spring. Proceeds from the bottle sales will benefit the Gill Heart Institute at UK HealthCare.

Congrats to Tim Couch. He is totally worthy.

SEC Baseball Power Rankings: One Week Down in Conference Play // Anchor Of Gold

Respect of a sort, I suppose.

Kentucky football coaches excited about young talent //

Football spring practice is here. Check your blood pressure.

Mark Story: Basketball gods smiling on Kentucky //

Has any NCAA tourney overall No. 1 seed ever had a tournament break wide open for it like UK has in 2012?

Perhaps not, but it doesn't take much to change that.

NCAA Tournament Opens Up Perfectly For Kentucky, Kansas While Duke Flames Out (Again) //

At least one made-for-TV matchup survived the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Looking ahead to the Sweet 16 matchups, no game is more intriguing than Kentucky-Indiana. It’s a great regional, non-conference rivalry, and it’s a rematch of the Wildcats’ only regular season loss. It’s also a huge contest for two teams in different stages of rebuilding. With a win, Tom Crean and the Hoosiers will bring their storied program optimism unseen in Bloomington in 20 years. It would also leave John Calipari to explain how his microwave dynasty got passed by a program which lost 20 games three straight years. But remember everything that had to happen for Indiana to win on a buzzer-beater in December -- the Hoosiers shot 60 percent from three-point range, Kentucky shot 52 percent from the free throw line, and foul trouble limited Anthony Davis to six points in 24 minutes. All this happened in front of one of the rowdiest crowds at Assembly Hall in recent memory. Look for Kentucky to win big in from of an overwhelmingly partial Atlanta crowd.

It would be so nice if Bomani Jones had this exactly right.

Reaction to foul on UNC's Marshall latest example of fans abusing loyalty - NCAA Division I Mens Basketball // News

Ethan Wragge's foul on Kendall Marshall is no dirty play. But it is to some Tar Heels fans, who threaten him via Twitter. Gregg Doyel wonders why (some) fans expect much more from athletes than from themselves.

Gregg Doyel is absolutely 100% right about this -- this kind of stuff is not just confined to one school.

NCAA Tournament – Luke Winn – // Posts Power Rankings: Sweet 16 Edition

As always, awesome stuff by Luke Winn.

Kentucky’s Teague Can ‘Shoot Up the Charts’ With Strong Postseason //

Teague is averaging 9.4 points and 4.8 assists and before Saturday’s performance the scout would have advised him to return to campus for his sophomore season.

"I would’ve said going into this thing he needed to stay in," the scout said.

A second NBA scout still believes Teague should remain at Kentucky.

"Teague should definitely stay in school," the second scout said.

At this point, my counsel would be to come back another year like Jones and Lamb did.

Top recruits in the Sweet Sixteen

NextCats breaks down how top recruits have fared this year. Recommended.