The first-overall seeded Kentucky Wildcats enter Saturday's game with in-state rival Louisville with all the pressure on their backs. For more than a month they have been the favorites of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, and this weekend in New Orleans is all about whether or not they will fulfill expectations. They have the rock star coach, the roster full of lottery picks and the most loyal and rabid fan base in the country, which will surely be on full display at the Superdome. Michael Rosenberg of Sports Illustrated penned a column highlighting the pressure on the 'Cats and noting which team could shatter their march to a Big Blue party in New Orleans on Monday:
This NCAA Tournament is about Kentucky and whether anybody can stop Kentucky. That seemed pretty clear two weeks ago, clearer a week ago, and is plainly obvious now. Louisville, Kansas and Ohio State all have a lot of fans, of course, and those fans will watch primarily to see if their team can win the national title. The rest of us want to know if somebody can beat Kentucky.
The Wildcats have the best team, far and away the best talent, and a very good coach, no matter what you think of him. Still, do you think we can turn the hype switch off for a minute?
Rosenberg thinks the Buckeyes have the best shot of knocking off the Cats, but they'll obviously have to get by Kansas first. With such a talented but young team, it will be interesting to see how UK responds to the hoopla at the Superdome on Saturday, especially given all the pressure and expectations coming down on them from "Big Blue Nation" and the college basketball punditry. They'll start the weekend on Saturday as nine-point favorites against the rival Cardinals.
For coverage of the Louisville Cardinals, stop by Card Chronicle. For more on the Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville's Final Four foe, check out A Sea of Blue. For all your 2012 March Madness needs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NCAA Tournament hub.