Mark Story

A set of Red & Blue rivalry riddles

When our state's signature basketball game has the feel of a Sesame Street segment:

The letter G vs. the letter P.

21. Rick Pitino. Coaches whose teams start the year ranked No. 3 in the nation aren't supposed to have three defeats (against the weak part of their schedule) before New Year's Day.

20. Billy Gillispie. Kentucky coaches have to feed the beast that is UK basketball with wins that generate heat among the fan base. So far in 2008-09, Gillispie doesn't have any of those.

19. Tubby Smith. Ex-Top Cat raised the stakes for Billy G. when he led Minnesota past Louisville last month.

18. Coach who needs this one most: Pitino (I changed my mind on this one after Louisville lost to UNLV).

17. Michael Porter. This is where we find out if recent solid play (24 assists vs. nine turnovers in past five games) is real growth or fool's gold.

16. Edgar Sosa. Where has the magic Sosa showed against Texas A&M (31 points) in Rupp Arena in the 2007 NCAA Tournament gone?

15. Kentucky stat to watch: For a team that's lost the ball 23 or more times in five different games, it's turnovers.

14. Louisville stat to watch: For a team that is shooting 31.3 percent from the field in its three losses, it is field-goal percentage.

13. Darius Miller. Could this be the game where the struggling UK freshman gets his confidence?

12. Samardo Samuels. Could this be the game where the prized U of L freshman takes his game above the rim?

11. Preston Knowles. Have a hunch the former Clark County star is going to come up large for Louisville.

10. Patrick Patterson. After last season's struggle (3-for-14 shooting; six turnovers) against Pitino's vintage traps, the Kentucky star certainly has something to play for this year.

9. Earl Clark. After missing last season's Cards win over UK for disciplinary reasons, the Louisville star certainly has something to play for this year.

8. Jodie Meeks. Freedom Hall has always been his house.

7. Two. The UK winning streak vs. Louisville in The Ville.

6. One. The number of field goals scored by Kentucky high school basketball products in the past two UK-U of L games combined. It was a jumper from Preston Knowles with 3:54 left in the first half of last season's game.

5. Zero. The number of times in the modern Cats-Cards rivalry (see accompanying chart) in which UK has won both the football and basketball game against U of L in the same school year.

This season's football score: Kentucky 27, Louisville 2.

4. Kentucky point-guard play: Has tended toward the shaky and erratic.

3. Louisville point-guard play: Has tended toward the shaky and erratic.

2. The winner of the game: The team whose point-guard play comes through.

1. My guess: Louisville 75, Kentucky 72.