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Friday Headlines: Kentucky vs. Providence Gameday Edition

Will Kentucky advance to the Round of 32?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round Greensboro Practice Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the time has come for Kentucky basketball. The No. 6 Wildcats open their NCAA Tournament tonight vs. No. 11 Providence — a team led by former Wildcat Bryce Hopkins.

Kentucky has held steady as a four-point favorite in this matchup, but they were also 8.5-point favorites over Vanderbilt in their opening round loss during last week’s SEC Tournament.

Kentucky struggled against Vanderbilt’s smaller lineup twice in 10 days. They lost both games and simply couldn’t guard the three point line or keep Vanderbilt out of the paint.

Providence present a similar lineup, especially playing Hopkins at the PF spot. But Kentucky should be able to overpower the Friars defense and move on to the Round of 32. The key word, though, is should.

The Wildcats had a few extra days of rest and extra prep time. They also have much more size and appear to be as healthy as they’ve been in months — even guard Sahvir Wheeler has now said he believes he’s available to play this weekend.

While Kentucky has shown flashes of real greatness this season, they’ve also had plenty of head-scratching moments that made fans wonder why they ever got their hopes up with this team. The Wildcats have gone from good to troubling to average to worse to great and back to average all in a matter of six months.

It’s been a crazy road with opportunity to always bounce back the next game. But now the entire season is on the line each time Kentucky steps on the court.

Through the first day of the Round of 64, we’ve already seen multiple upsets by double-digit seeds. Last year, Kentucky was the first high seed to fall in their shocking loss to St. Peter’s. And though they’re just a six seed this year, a loss to Providence is deemed unacceptable.

Only time will tell if Kentucky has the ability to string together a deep run in the tournament or if they’ll take an early exit for a second year in a row. It all starts with Providence, with tip-off scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on CBS.

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He’s been incredible for Providence this season.

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Four straight for the Wildcats.

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This is pretty odd.