NEWARK, N.J. — Kentucky and Ohio State bring different beliefs about game preparation into their NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 meeting on Friday.
UK Coach John Calipari makes no secret of his preference to concentrate on the Cats' execution and performance.
When asked how much time the players spend digesting information about an opponent, Terrence Jones said, "Really just the day before the game and the night before walk-through."
By contrast, Ohio State Coach Thad Matta encourages his players to study an opponent thoroughly. No Buckeye has a reputation for greater planning than point guard Aaron Craft.
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"It's pretty heavy," he said of OSU's preparation for an opponent. "For us, we do better when we have a little more advanced study on the team we play."
Of course, if there was one way to prepare for a game, all teams would go about it that way.
Craft conceded that point when asked about Kentucky's normal preparation.
"That might be a great way to go about it," he said. "It's whatever works for each team."
Craft not fazed
Ohio State freshman point guard Aaron Craft was the player in question in the now famous photograph of then-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl's improper hospitality involving a prospect. NCAA rules do not permit contact with a player prior to the summer before his senior year.
The photo captured Craft, then at the start of his junior year, at Pearl's home. Pearl initially lied about Craft being at his home, then confessed. Ultimately, Tennessee fired Pearl.
Craft committed to Tennessee, then re-opened his recruitment.
"Tennessee didn't do anything wrong," he said. "I really enjoyed the school. It was too far away."
Craft is from Findlay, Ohio.
"It's a college town," he said of Knoxville. "It was an awesome place to be. You can't beat the weather down there, either."
Craft denied that the controversy will affect his play.
"My heart goes out to them," he said. "I'm with Ohio State in the Sweet 16. I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can."
Much like the UK team of 1995-96, it's taken individual brilliance to beat Ohio State this season.
When the Buckeyes lost at Wisconsin, Badgers point guard Jordan Taylor had 27 points, seven assists and only one turnover in 39 minutes.
A loss at Purdue eight days later saw the Boilermakers E'Twaun Moore score 38 points.
In UK's national championship season of 1995-96, the only losses were to UMass led by Marcus Camby and Mississippi State led by Dontae' Jones.
OSU 5, UK 0
Kentucky has lost all five previous games against Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament.
Of the teams in this year's tournament, only North Carolina has beaten UK more than once without the Cats winning at least once. UNC is 2-0 against UK in the NCAA Tournament.
Big Blue goes
Calipari put the go in Go Big Blue when he ordered the team to move to a hotel outside of Newark.
"We wanted more privacy," UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy wrote in an email. "We normally don't stay at the same hotel with our band and cheerleaders."
In addition to the band and cheerleaders, UK's assigned hotel for the NCAA Tournament games in Newark also housed fans, UK president Lee Todd, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and some members of the school's Board of Trustees.
Michael Percaccio, the general manager of the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Newark, said Calipari made the decision.
"I guess he felt there was too much distraction" at the Wyndham, Percaccio said. "It's an important game. He felt it would be better not to be here."
Calipari moved the team to a hotel in Livingston, N.J., which is about 12 miles from Newark.
The North Carolina media corps isn't covering the NCAA Tournament one game at a time. Reporters saw that North Carolina and Duke entered the Sweet 16 two victories away from meeting in the national semifinals.
Such a game would also leave Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski one victory from breaking Bob Knight's record of 902.
The UNC media corps called such a scenario "Armageddon."
Sportswriters Rick Bozich and Brett Dawson of the Courier-Journal in Louisville and yours truly were on a flight out of Charlotte on Wednesday night. It came within 15 of 20 minutes of reaching Newark before the pilot said weather had forced officials to close the airport.
The plane returned to Charlotte, necessitating an unscheduled night in North Carolina.
Sportswriters Darrell Bird and Matt May of The Cats' Pause endured five hours of delays before reaching Newark late Wednesday night.
But the prize goes to Kent Spencer and his crew from Lexington television station WTVQ.
Their drive from Lexington to Newark on Wednesday got halted by a flat tire near the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border.
Adding to the degree of difficulty, as Spencer and company changed the flat, a hail storm erupted.
Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson will call the game.