Posted on: January 27, 2010 12:51 am
Edited on: January 27, 2010 6:51 am

UK ignores Obama, loses focus (and game)

I had the details wrong.

I admit that much.

But I did tell you that Kentucky would not go undefeated, that the Wildcats would lose on the road. And wouldn't you know it, before my stupid column was up even 12 hours, the Wildcats lost at South Carolina, otherwise known as a place I thought they'd win.

Final score: Unranked South Carolina 68, No. 1 Kentucky 62.

Call it the President Obama Jinx.

As you probably heard, President Obama called the Kentucky basketball team Tuesday to thank them for organizing a telethon that raised more than $1 million for Haiti. He referred to John Wall as "all-star" and told the team that "the way [they] were going" indicated they might end up at the White House accepting congratulations for winning a national title. President Obama then asked who Kentucky played next. John Calipari told him South Carolina, at South Carolina.

"I think you should be alright," President Obama said. "But there is that tendency once you get to be No. 1 to start letting down a little bit. So you guys stay focused."

Roughly nine hours later, Darnell Dodson missed an open layup in a one-possession game with a little more than five minutes to play. No focus. It seemed to foreshadow the conclusion, which was Kentucky's first loss -- a loss to a team that entered with an 11-8 record, a loss to a team that lost its second-best player (Dominique Archie) to a knee injury five games into the season.

"Let's be honest," South Carolina's Devan Downey told reporters afterward. "No one gave us a chance."

That's basically true.

But President Obama did tell UK to stay focused or else.

The Wildcats did not.

So now they're one of five teams with one loss.

Just like Kansas.



And Syracuse.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 26, 2010 4:43 pm

Video of President Obama talking to the UK team

President Obama, as planned, called the Kentucky basketball team Tuesday to thank them for organizing a telethon that raised more than $1 million for Haiti.

"I'm honored to speak with the No. 1 team in the country," President Obama said as he opened the call. John Calipari responded "Thank you, Mr. President," then explained what it meant to have the sitting President of the United States call his team during the season. After that, Calipari turned the call over to Patrick Patterson, who thanked President Obama for "what [he's] doing for this country." Then Calipari introduced John Wall, at which point President Obama said, "What's going on, All-Star? ... I've been watching you."

Click this link to watch video of President Obama's call to the Kentucky team.

(Video courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal)
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kentucky
Posted on: January 26, 2010 10:47 am

President Obama to thank UK for Haiti telethon

On Monday, John Calipari jokingly called ESPN's John Buccigross a "jagoff" on national television. Today, he'll accept a call from President Obama, who is set to phone Calipari and the Kentucky team to thank them for organizing a telethon and raising more than $1 million for Haiti.

The call is scheduled for 1:25 p.m. ET.

Then the top-ranked Wildcats will play at South Carolina at 9 p.m. ET.

If they lose, it'll forever be known as the "President Obama curse." But Kentucky is a seven-point favorite at Sportsbook.com, and South Carolina's Dominique Archie is still out for the season. So the Wildcats should be OK, I think.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kentucky
Posted on: January 23, 2010 1:01 am
Edited on: January 23, 2010 1:25 am

No, I can't see it happening

A few of you have asked if I think Arkansas can keep Kentucky from moving to No. 1.

My answer: Absolutely not.

I mean, why would that happen?

The Razorbacks have been competitive lately, sure. But they played a tough game against (and lost to) Florida on Thursday, and they had to spend Friday traveling to Lexington. Meantime, Kentucky has had a week to rest and prepare. And the Wildcats still have John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe. So it's not difficult to see why UK is a 16-point favorite at Sportsbook.com, and that number alone should serve as a good indication that John Calipari's team will win this game.

My prediction: Kentucky 84, Arkansas 69.

Then on Monday, the Wildcats will move to No. 1 in the AP and Coaches polls.

(They're already No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one) )

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 20, 2010 3:08 pm

Media panel has Wall way ahead in POY race

Michael Rothstein of AnnArbor.com polled 45 college basketball writers to get a glimpse of how the Player of the Year race is unfolding. It's no surprise that John Wall got 32 of the 45 first-place votes, just a surprise that three voters didn't list Wall among their top three.

I like to call those people stupid.

Seriously, how could Wall not be in somebody's top three?

Anyway, click this link to check the results.

My ballot (as of this minute) is ...

1. John Wall (Kentucky)
2. Evan Turner (Ohio State)
3. Damion James (Texas)
Posted on: January 15, 2010 11:58 am

Dear Gary (on Brandon Knight and Josh Selby)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Time for a recruiting update and what your crystal ball is telling you about some of the top recruits. I remember last year when you did your projections on where some of the top recruits would be going. It kills me to say, on most accounts, you were spot on. Xavier Henry, John Wall, etc. Yeah I gave you credit for Henry to Memphis (even though he ended up at Kansas when John Calipari left for Kentucky). Let's get an update, please? Your opinion is always valued, regardless of what the no life trolls on the boards have to say.

-- Jake

For now, let's just focus on the two best prospects still on the board -- Brandon Knight and Josh Selby.

My prediction?

One will go to Kentucky, the other to Kansas.

It could go either way.

But with Tyler Smith's gun to my head, I'd say the most likely scenario is Knight to Kentucky, Selby to Kansas.
Posted on: January 12, 2010 1:26 pm

We'll see tonight, I guess

I had completely forgotten about Kenny Boynton's comments from last summer until a reader emailed and reminded me. So then I went and checked a post dated July 29 and, sure enough, there it was -- a blog about the Florida freshman telling SlamOnline.com that he didn't believe Kentucky would be "as good as everyone says they are."

"To tell you the truth, I’ve thought about it and on paper they look good, but I think we match up with them," Boynton added last summer. "I think we have a better team."

Strong words.

Can't wait to see.

Kentucky plays tonight at Florida.

Here's a video preview I did with CBSSports.com's Jason Horowitz.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Florida, Kentucky
Posted on: January 9, 2010 6:51 pm

And then there were three

There's no shame in losing at Wisconsin.

Almost everybody does it.

And the loss doesn't mean Purdue stinks.

Purdue is very good.

But the nice thing about the Boilermakers' 73-66 loss at Wisconsin is that it will, at least momentarily, end the debate about whether Purdue belongs in the top tier with Kansas, Texas and Kentucky, i.e., the other schools that entered this weekend with undefeated records. Now that Purdue is no longer among the undefeated teams, folks won't try to group Purdue with the other undefeated teams, and then I won't have to argue that Purdue doesn't belong with the other undefeated teams, and everybody's life gets simpler.

As I type, three undefeated teams remain.

Kansas, Texas and Kentucky.

That's perfect because I've insisted for a while that those are college basketball's top three teams, and that they belong on a tier above all others, Purdue included. Purdue fans took offense to that opinion, explained how their team was undefeated, too, and then asked why I thought Purdue was terrible. Obviously, I never thought Purdue was terrible, and I still don't. In fact, I think Purdue is good enough to win the Big Ten and make the Final Four. It's just that I'm a big believer in the theory that it takes three NBA players to win the NCAA tournament, and I don't think Purdue has three.

Kansas does.

(Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry)

Texas does.

(Dexter Pittman, Damion James, Jordan Hamilton, Avery Bradley)

Kentucky does.

(John Wall, Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe)

But Purdue doesn't.

And that's the only reason I've never grouped Purdue with Kansas, Texas and Kentucky. I simply don't believe Matt Painter has the roster to compete with those rosters for the national title. Could I be wrong? Sure, I guess. But understand that 40 of the past 41 NCAA tournament champions have had at least three players who were either A) selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, B) selected in the second round of the NBA Draft or, C) not selected in the first or second round but still went on to play in the NBA.

The only exception is the Syracuse team in 2003.

So though history suggests you can get to the Sweet 16 with anything and make a Final Four with close to anything, it also tells us that you'd better have three NBA players or Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick if you want to win it all. Short of that, you're falling short. And I think Purdue is slightly short of that, which makes the Boilermakers a very good team that just isn't equipped to be elite.

Now that Purdue has one loss, that's how Purdue will be perceived by the common fan.

That'll leave Kansas, Texas and Kentucky alone at the top, which is the way it should've been all along.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com