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John Calipari Doesn’t Think UK Is a ‘Very Good’ Team Right Now [VIDEO]

Ahead of tonight’s superstar matchup between Kentucky and Kansas in Madison Square Garden, both head coaches–UK’s John Calipari and Kansas’ Bill Self–got a chance to assess their teams and their opponents. Coach Cal doesn’t think the ‘Cats are very good right now, while Coach Self believes his Jayhawks are much deeper than people realize.

COACH CAL DOWNPLAYS THE UK HYPE

UK head coach John Calipari. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

If you ask me, that’s a couple of coaches giving a typical tongue-in-cheek spin on tonight’s proceedings. You see, the Wildcats and have reaping praise from day one of practice. The freshmen–Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer, and especially Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist–are the best line-up of rookies I have EVER seen in all my years of enjoying college basketball. I don’t mean the best Kentucky recruiting class, I mean the BEST recruiting class. This quartet is far more impressive than either of the previous two classes Coach Cal has brought to the University of Kentucky. And, those were pretty darn good classes. But Cal can’t ever play into the hype about any of his teams. I don’t expect he ever will. He’s a great motivator and communicator and knows how to keep his teams’ heads OUT of the clouds. Now, having lavished that praise, there’s every chance in the world Kentucky will lose tonight. Despite the high quality of the newcomers, they ARE only 18 or 19 years old and we ARE talking about Madison Square Garden, one of the biggest stages in all of sports. To make the bright lights even brighter, the UK-Kansas game is tonight’s headliner. Yeah, the Duke-Michigan State game which precedes it in the Champions Classic is the UNDERCARD. So there’s a lot to tonight’s matchup between the ‘Cats and the ‘Hawks. And Coach Cal has to temper all the press to keep his kids focused.

COACH SELF DOWNPLAYS KANSAS’ DEPTH CONCERNS

 On the other hand, Kansas head coach Bill Self would like to de-emphasize some the negative press about his Jayhawks in recent weeks. So he talks up the depth. It’s what he needs to do. The last thing any coach should do is walk into a locker room and tell his team, “Yep, you’re as mediocre as they say you are.” Besides, NEVER count out Kansas; there’s a reason they’re the second-winningest basketball program of all time. And, tonight, they’re on the hardwood facing the team that’s just ahead of them. In a way, it’s a rematch of the 2008 National Championship, but in coach’s name only. Bill Self’s Kansas team Memphis in that title tilt. And who was the Memphis coach in that game? Yep, John Calipari. Tonight, it’s Self vs. Calipari–round two. We’ll see who takes a bigger bite out of the Big Apple.

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