By Ira D. Combs
Tri State Sports Media Service Inc.
Finally, everybody who is a card-carrying member of Big Blue Nation and, for that matter, everyone in the free world who cares about college basketball can pin the 40–0 talk on Cal and his boys back because they’re more than ready to take on the pressure of winning the remaining six games, no matter who their opponent is.
Actually, I think they embraced the 40–0 talk several weeks ago and are using it for motivational purposes every day the sun comes up. The 34–0 Wildcats will be just the fourth team to enter the Big Dance undefeated since Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers won it all without a loss in 1976.
Evidently the boys in Las Vegas who set the gambling lines also feel the Cats are ready as wel . Approximately 45 minutes after the CBS Selection Show went off the air, the Las Vegas odds makers established the Kentucky Wildcats as even money to win this year's 2015 NCAA Division I championship.
Vegas hasn’t set even odds for any college basketball team to win the championship in over 20 years.
It all starts for UK this Thursday evening at approximately 9:30 on CBS-TV at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, where they will play the winner of the Tuesday night's play-in game between Manhattan and Hampton in Dayton Arena. Kentucky’s road to the Final Four is not as difficult as last year's yet the NCAA Selection Committee provided UK with enough competition in the Midwest Regional for several stern challenges the first two weeks. The first game should hold no real problems then Saturday UK will get the winner of Cincinnati-Purdue game and should all things click in Louisville, look for the Cats to have to beat two of the following (likely West Virginia, Notre Dame, Kansas and Maryland) in the regional round in Cleveland, Ohio, to get that hard-earned Final Four bid to Indianapolis.
As the Cats left Nashville Sunday afternoon with another SEC tourney title, it appeared, other than a little mental and physical fatigue having set in which is expected having played three consecutive games in as many days, there were no injuries to report to any member of either Platoon.
All tickets to watch the Cats for Thursday’s game in the Yum Center are already gone except for the allotment UK gets which will be used up in a student lottery and the rest for the UK athletics department. However, if you’re a seasoned college basketball fan who has traveled and followed UK over the years, you know how to set up somewhere just outside the Yum Center lobby Thursday around noon and catch the losing teams' fans as they leave each game Thursday and you should be able to pick up a few tickets for Saturday's doubleheader.
Kentucky basketball, in all its past glory and winning tradition, still provided college basketball with a few “wow moments” this season -- the beat downs of Kansas and UCLA, to name a few, plus 13 wins against teams which earned a bid to this year's NCAA tournament.
But when all is said and done the first Monday in April the biggest "Wow" moment of all will be when CBS plays the "One Shining Moment" song with Cal and his boys perched atop the podium in Indianapolis as the undefeated 40–0 NCAA champs.
It’s just got to happen now.
You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage of UK sports as well as KHSAA sports. You can also follow me on Twitter at @combsbrothers5.