LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – I considered making this my weekly poll question, but I’ll squeeze it into the conversation here:

Louisville makes its annual trip to John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday to play Tony Bennett’s unforgiving Virginia team.

Simple question: How many times will U of L players and coaches use the word Kryptonite before playing the Cavaliers?

U of L coach David Padgett slipped the term into the conversation Saturday during his first mention of the game, but there are more than 48 hours until tipoff.

Think about it. Make your forecast. Then dive into this Monday Muse

1. Recruiting vs. Developing

You want to talk about Zion Williamson. I want to ask you about Carsen Edwards.

You want to complain about the recruits Mike Krzyzewski is collecting at Duke. I want you to think about a list of guys Krzyzewski and other Hall of Famers have ignored who are doing wonderful things in college basketball this season.

You want to worry about the recruits John Calipari has lost to Coach K. I want to remind you that Coach K’s record in the last two NCAA Tournament is a spectacular 3-2 – with the victories over mighty UNC-Wilmington, Yale and Troy.

But, most of all, I want you to take another look at the teams ranked one, two and three in the current AP college basketball Top 25 – Villanova, followed by Virginia followed by Purdue.

Teams with a combined record of 61-4. I believe Virginia beat Duke at Duke Saturday.

You will see two McDonald’s all-Americans on those teams ranked 1-2-3.

Study the DNA of the 15 starters. You will see more three-star recruits than five-star recruits. Purdue starts a three-star (P.J. Thompson). Villanova starts a three-star (Eric Paschall). Virginia starts three three-stars (Devon Hall, Jack Salt, Isaiah Wilkins).

Most of all, you will see teams led by three guys just as obsessed with coaching and developing as they are with recruiting. It can be done that way. Ask Jay Wright, Tony Bennett or Matt Painter. There's not as much sizzle. It requires patience and the ability to project talent. But it is happening.

I understand that Purdue and Virginia need to do something spectacular in March. If they don’t, the narrative will shift that you can’t win big in the NCAA Tournament without five-star guys – even though Villanova showed it can be done in 2016.

But credit Villanova, Virginia and Purdue with showing there is another way.

2. Another Look at the NBA Draft Board

The closer we dribble to the end of the season, the more NBA Draft projections are filed. Sam Vecenie of TheAthletic.com shared his analysis last week, delivering his Top 100 prospects.
Duke had four Top 50 players. Virginia had none.

Did I mention Virginia beat Duke, 65-63?

In fact, here are the players from Villanova, Virginia and Purdue that made Vecenie’s Top 100. (Subscription required.)

No. 9, Villanova forward Mikal Bridges

No. 33, Villanova guard Jalen Brunson

No. 53, Purdue forward Vince Edwards

No. 83, Purdue guard Dakota Mathias

Virginia whiffed. I’ll mention it to Tony Bennett Wednesday night in Charlottesville. No Top 100 NBA Draft prospects? Tony, Tony, Tony, what are you doing?

For the record, here are the local names who made Vecenie’s Top 100:

Kentucky’s Kevin Knox (12); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (17); Hamidou Diallo (28); Jarred Vanderbilt (35) and P.J. Washington (59).  Juwan Morgan of Indiana is ranked 74th.

No mention of Raymond Spalding?

Seems like an oversight to me.

3. Producing NBA Players

I’m not sure why a gambling website based in Canada was interested in ranking the American cities that have produced the most NBA basketball players over the years but the topic intrigued somebody at onlinegambling.ca. (Story link.)

The results are not surprising. The winner is the place that should be on top simply through the power of population. Although the site posted separate numbers for New York and Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn are all NYC for people who love the area.

NYC has been the birthplace of 168 NBA players over the years, placing the Big Apple ahead of Chicago (129) and Los Angeles (100).

The number for Louisville remains strong. The area is 12th on the list with 34 NBA players born here through the years, just behind Memphis but just ahead of Indianapolis.

4. Bear Down Dave Ragone

The Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. The Minnesota Vikings were on the brink. The Los Angeles Rams are getting better. The Atlanta Falcons went last season.

The Chicago Bears have been to the Big Game twice in 52 years, which is why everybody in Chicago still talks about Mike Ditka, Jim McMahon and Refrigerator Perry.

The Bears changed head coaches for the third time since Lovie Smith led the franchise to a Super Bowl loss about a decade ago. The team has shifted from Marc Trestman to John Fox to Matt Nagy, who arrives from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Nagy decided to keep one member of Fox’s offensive staff – former Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone, who will continue to coach quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Nice get for Ragone, who attended the U of L-Wake Forest game Saturday night.

“Very happy, very excited,” said Ragone, who will work under offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, the former Oregon head coach.

5. Nick Saban Makes All The Right Moves

You watch Nick Saban on the sidelines and you’re convinced that his sideline behavior cannot be the demeanor that he brings to the kitchen table while sweet-talking recruits and their parents.

The scowling. The snarling. The sense that everything you do is wrong and nothing you do is right.

There has to be another side of Saban.

You bet.

And sometimes the finest college football coach of this generation shows it – and allows others to capture and share the moment.


6. J.B. Holmes in the Penalty Box

You want two-hour football games? You want a pitch clock in baseball? You want a 24-second clock in college basketball?

Don’t forget golf. Pick up the pace, fellas.

Kentuckian J.B. Holmes did his part to stir the discussion about forcing PGA players to stop dawdling and start striking the ball by reportedly taking four minutes and 10 seconds to pick a club and make a shot on the 18th hole Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open Sunday in La Jolla, Calif.

Then he laid up – and the Twitter observers laid into Holmes, like veteran golfer Mark Calcavecchia.

Good for them.

7. Whatever Happened to the New England Patriots?

I’m a sucker for those Where Are They Now? Stories, which probably explains why every magazine puts one together two or three times a year.

The Super Bowl is a good time for that feature, especially when you think about Tom Brady and the first trip he made to the game with the Patriots 17 years ago.

You know that Brady is still the Patriots quarterback, that Bill Belichick remains the team’s coach and Bob Kraft still signs the checks.

But what about the other guys who helped New England score against the St. Louis Rams in New Orleans in Brady’s Super Bowl introduction. What happened to them?

It’s a quite a list. There is the usual collection of coaches and TV analysts. But there is also a winemaker, a brewer, a professional poker player and one guy still alive and kicking (hint, hint) in the league.

Even if you’re tired of the Patriots, I believe you’ll find this story by BusinessInsider.com worth a read.

8. At The Buzzer

One thing people enjoy more than Where Are They Now? Stories are buzzer beaters, especially in NCAA Tournament play.

We’ve got about six weeks to wait for those moments. Until then, this shot from a high school basketball game in Evanston, Illinois will set the standard for how anything can happen if there is more than a tick or two left on the clock.

Spoiler alert: It goes in. Who’s going to share a lengthy heave that missed?

9. Poll Results I

I heard chatter at the Louisville game Saturday night that there’s been discussion by some movers and shakers in town about pursuing one of the 10 XFL franchises that wrestling guru Vince McMahon plans to create for the 2020 football season.

McMahon made the announcement last week that his offbeat league was coming back, with a goal of playing games in about two hours. (I like that part.) No cities were named as favorites to get the call but there are football fans in this town that believe Louisville should pursue one of the 10 spots.

I posted the question on Twitter over the weekend. This was the result.

10. Poll Results II

Which team would you like to win Super Bowl LII?

Philadelphia Eagles 73.7 percent

New England Patriots  26.3 percent

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