Credit the scheduling gods at CBS helping tip off what’ll ultimately prove to be one of the better sports days of 2011. From the moment the college basketball schedule was released, everyone circled the December 3 rematch of last year’s Elite 8 between UNC and Kentucky for obvious reasons. Pro talent was so abundant that the contest appeared more like a pro-am game than one built for the collegiate level. And thankfully, the actual contest lived up to the hype.
In the end, Kentucky used an impressive second half to squeak by Carolina 73-72 in what has the early billings as the game of the year (sans tournament time). The end of the game was controversial; so much so Twitter damn near exploded as confusion matched the jubilation of Kentucky fans (Duke fans, too) and the frustration of UNC fans. With all the hoopla leading into the game and now afterwards, five interesting questions remain on the Rupp Arena floor. Being truthful, the way the game ended was probably the best thing for college basketball. Nothing in life sells better than controversy. Well, except for Herman Cain.
1. Ending with only seven points and nine rebounds, diaper dandy Anthony Davis secured a Kentucky victory with a block on John Henson. Seeing as how this was the country’s first true opportunity to see him live, how convinced are you right now we’re looking at the #1 pick in the 2012 draft? Remember, the first overall selection is based off talent, but equally on potential as well. He’s already got the country’s greatest unibrow, which has to count for something.
2. Does Kendall Marshall have the best court vision in the country? Put him on an offensively adept NBA squad and he could blend right in. Like, possibly, the Knicks?
3. Could this be the year Coach Cal finally pulls it together and wins it all? It’s early, but Kentucky has a squad that’s bursting at the seams with talent from every area of the court. Plus, the way Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Doron Lamb seemed to embrace the magnitude of the stage, especially in the second half, had to have been inspiring if you’re a Wildcats fan. They still missed a crucial throw (surprise!) damn near costing them the game, which leads to the next question(s)…
4. How much differently does the game play out if Harrison Barnes is not in foul trouble and is on the court more than 24 minutes? Why didn’t he touch the ball the last play of the game? You’ll see he’s calling for the rock from Henson with nine seconds left. And when will Barnes develop a consistent game going to the hoop? His jumper’s there and he already boasts the smoothness of a pro, but merely taking 18-24 footers won’t make you an elite player in the NBA. He took zero free throws against Kentucky. Just know Paul Silas will not accept such tomfoolery when he’s in Charlotte next year.
5. God bless March Madness and the upsets it ultimately brings, but who wouldn’t want to see a rematch on a neutral court come April?