Sunday, March 14, 2004

Experts believe 'Cats likely to be top seed

UK notebook

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ATLANTA - Readying to play its third game in three days, Kentucky isn't spending much time worrying about whether it will draw a No. 1 or 2 NCAA Tournament seed. That may be because the difference is indecipherable.

"Being a 1 or a 2 is pretty much the same thing," junior forward Chuck Hayes said.

South Carolina coach Dave Odom agreed: "The first eight teams (nationally) are dead even."

This fan had a simple but effective message.
(AP photo)
Every major bracketology expert forecasts UK to be a top seed, though a loss today could change that. Other teams seemingly contending for top seeds included Duke, Saint Joseph's, Stanford, Oklahoma State and Connecticut. As of Saturday afternoon,, and all projected UK, Saint Joe's, Stanford and Duke as the No. 1s. and projected UK, Duke, Stanford and Pitt as No. 1s.

All five Web sites placed UK in the St. Louis regional, a.k.a. the Midwest.

GATOR BITES: There's a bit of dj vu in today's matchup, as UK faces a Florida team it beat narrowly the first time and by a large margin recently - as was the case Saturday against South Carolina.

UK beat the Gators by 20 points last Sunday in Lexington. Asked what makes him think today's game will be different, Florida coach Billy Donovan said, "Not much."

Yet Donovan said his team could win if it plays like it has nothing to lose. "We need to relieve the pressure of expectations," he said.

COVER BOY: Erik Daniels, the senior center from Princeton High, is having a high-profile weekend. Saturday, he became the 51st member of UK's 1,000-point club - his 21 points gives him 1,015 - and it was announced he'll be a cover boy on TV Guide next week.

"I guess I'm some kind of model now," he said, laughing.

The magazine will have covers featuring 11 different players, assigned by region, to preview the NCAA Tournament. Daniels will be on issues in and around Lexington.

Of his 1,000th point, he said, "It feels good to be part of history."

STUNNING STATS: UK is 33-1 all-time in SEC tourney semifinal games and has won its last 32 such contests. Its last semis loss came in 1936 to Tennessee in Knoxville.

UK is 25-7 in SEC title games but has 24 championships, as it was stripped of the 1988 tourney crown because of NCAA violations.



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