ESPN is airing the game at 4pm EST. They are also doing their College Game Day broadcast at 11am live from Rupp Arena. Knowing Kentucky fans, Rupp will be packed just for that.
Hopes are high for another title. It's been a milestone season already. A new coach, a phenomenal recruiting class. The only undefeated team, soon-to-be ranked #1. Being the first team in history to break the 2,000 win barrier.
Thankfully the conference will provide ample opportunity for this relatively inexperienced squad to continue growing as a team. As strong as the SEC is this year, it's not likely that Kentucky will make it through the conference and its tournment without a couple of losses. Kentucky will have to face #8 Tennessee twice in a two week span, the only team to give Kansas a loss so far this season. If that's not enough, Ole Miss has been in the Top 25 all season long and Mississippi State crept into the bottom of the AP Poll for the first time last week. And don't discount Vanderbilt. Vandy is hot right now and could give both Tennessee and Kentucky trouble at home next week.
The bottom line with this Kentucky team is whether or not anyone in the country can contain John Wall, which no one has figured out how to do yet. Even the teams that try to doule (triple) team him fail because he'll find the open man. He's already broken the school record for single game assists. As long as Wall is healthy and in the lineup; any team in the country will be hard pressed to beat Kentucky. If that's not crazy enough, Kentucky also has the best power forward in the country, hands-down, in Patrick Patterson. Bledsoe has finally started coming into his own in the past couple of weeks as has Cousins.
That's not to say that Kentucky is unbeatable, far from it. But Kentucky is perfectly capable of defeating any team in the country. What I'm worried about the most is what seems to be Kentucky's inability to kill. How many times this season has Kentucky blown a 15-20 point lead and then it feels like they're just holding on at the end? Too many times than I care to think about. I have a hard time believing them to be a serious contender for another National Championship unless they can find that focus in February. Kansas and Texas both already have that level of experience and focus, and they're only getting better. Kentucky may make it to the Final Four, but if they can't develop that killer instinct in the coming weeks, Kansas or Texas will eat them alive in March. That said, I'll offer one more prediction: Texas won't make the Final Four. Rick Barnes is a great coach, but historically speaking, he usually fucks it up in March.
I actually sort of hope that Mississippi hands Kentucky their first defeat, at Rupp, on February 2nd. It's just the sort of kick in the pants this team needs and it'd light that figurative fire under their ass early.