COLUMN: Cats cannot be counted out

It’s a scene fit for a Hollywood film; the up-and-down, inexperienced basketball team peppered with new faces meets the latest version of the undisputed No. 1.

I am no UK fan, by any means. But in the past couple of days, my feelings about the UK-Ohio State matchup have changed drastically.

Maybe it’s my natural desire to want to see the upset, maybe it’s me being completely irrational, call it what you wish.

Last year’s star-studded UK team, the one everyone fell in love with before the season even began, didn’t meet Big Blue Nation’s expectations of an NCAA championship. It was no surprise, perhaps even proper for it to happen that way.

It’s appropriate then that this edition of the Cats, the group everyone has been on the fence about since day one, is the one that will make a run deep into March.

Ohio State is good — and I mean damn good — but, at least at this point in the season, UK isn’t far behind. Both teams score in the top 30 nationally, and other stats are relative.

Freshmen Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb have emerged as leaders, and Terrence Jones, who hit the ground running early this season, has remained consistent. Josh Harrellson helped UK become the 29th-best rebounding team in the country at the end of the regular season, compared to the Buckeyes’ rank of 195th.

UK isn’t a No. 16 seed that prayed its way into the tournament taking on an undefeated top seed. It has a genuine chance to take down OSU. It will obviously be a battle, but nothing is automatic.

I picked this year’s UK team to be knocked out in the second round (which is what I will continue to call the round of 32 teams, NCAA). I can admit I was wrong, thinking this team would let its fans down like it had on occasion this season.

UK has stepped up in the conference and NCAA tournaments, proving people (including myself) wrong over and over again. It will have the chance to do the same yet again.

Let’s not count UK just yet. It isn’t called March Madness for nothing.