With UK’s rivals on top, bad dreams come alive



By Les Johns | @KernelJohns

[email protected]

Current sports headlines back up the claim that truth is often stranger than fiction.

This week we found out that Manti Te’o had a fake dead girlfriend, Lance Armstrong finally was admitting to doping and Tiger Woods was set to propose to his ex-wife.

If you are a UK basketball fan, however, none of those are the strangest story of the week.

Cat fans are still coming to grips with the fact that their young team is struggling and unranked while their three most hated teams are No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in all the national polls.

The dream-like sequence of events culminating with UK’s eighth national title last year has quickly morphed into a nightmare for Cats fans.

“My least favorite teams would have to be Louisville, Indiana, Tennessee and Duke,” said Derek Darlington, a UK community leadership development junior who was front-row in the eRupption Zone on Tuesday night to watch UK’s win over Tennessee.

How does Darlington feel about three of those hated teams topping the polls right now?

“It makes my skin crawl,” he said.

The Louisville Cardinals (16-1) are No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today college basketball polls. The Cards have won 12 in a row, defeated all four Big East opponents by double digits and even beat the Cats, 80-77, at the Yum! Center on Dec. 29.

The Cards are for real, will be highly ranked the rest of the season and could possibly make Cats fans lose even more sleep in March with a deep NCAA Tournament run.

The Indiana Hoosiers are No. 2 in both polls but likely will drop a few spots following a home-court loss to Wisconsin on Tuesday.

Tom Crean’s Hoosiers are well equipped but likely will encounter some bumps and bruises as they maneuver through conference play.

The BigTen is undoubtedly the best basketball conference this year, featuring six teams in the AP Top 25.

Adding to Cats fans’ torment is the continued perpetuation of the narrative claiming John Calipari and the Cats backed out of playing the Hoosiers this year.

Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils sit at No. 3 in both polls and tasted defeat for the first time last week at North Carolina State.

The Dukies had built up quite a tourney resume early in the season with wins over Ohio State, Louisville and Minnesota. They even beat the Cats, 75-68, on Nov. 13 in the Georgia Dome.

If senior forward Ryan Kelly recovers and returns from his right foot injury, visions of Blue Devils dancing late in March may prove haunting for the UK faithful.

“This season has been rough, everybody knows that,” said Adam Schilt, a secondary English education junior who was also in the eRupption Zone on Tuesday. “This year we are struggling at home, which is new, but we are hoping they can pull it together.”

The Blue Devils and Cards join the Tennessee Volunteers as his three most despised basketball teams.

“I hope all three of those teams lose the rest of the games they play this season,” he said.

The Cats are unranked and have more losses than their biggest three rivals combined. The Cards are atop the polls and look unbeatable.

For Cats fans, this has to feel like some strange hallucination — a bad dream full of unspeakable horror.

The good news about bad dreams is that you eventually wake up … right?