Quick question: Just how good is Kentucky, anyway?The safe bet is very good. Very, very good. Like, national-title-contention good. And why not? John Calipari entered the 2016-17 season having wrangled together the nations No. 1 recruiting class, per ESPN RecruitingNation, in a year when No. 1 Harry Giles and No. 3 Jayson Tatum both chose to play at Duke.That was not easy to do, but done it was, and those dudes of the No. 1 class have hardly disappointed. Freshmen?DeAaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo?and Wenyen Gabriel are all on the floor more frequently than any Wildcats player except sophomore?Isaiah Briscoe. All but Gabriel -- who gets 20.4 minutes per game and is still the teams second-leading rebounder -- average double-figure points per game. Fox has been described (by his own coach, among others) as a left-handed?John Wall; Monk has more or less lived up to CoachCal.coms preseason appraisals; Adebayo has grabbed offensive rebounds, drawn fouls and dutifully protected the rim.The Wildcats enter the weekend ranked among the top 10 in offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency, per KenPom.com, something just two other teams can say. One of those teams is Kansas. The other is Kentuckys next opponent.And thats just a small portion of what makes No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 7 North Carolina (5:45 p.m. ET, CBS) so fascinating. For months, this neutral-court matchup at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas -- not UCLAs cross-country visit, pfft -- was the one Wildcats fans had circled on their calendar (albeit in slightly less-bold ink than next weeks blood feud with Louisville). Now here we are, and those same fans are?wondering?-- unfairly --?whether Saturday is the moment Kentucky turns really good into a win over a really good team.Whats doubly exciting is that the Tar Heels are big, athletic and versatile, and they love to push the pace. Which is to say theyre coached by Roy Williams, and which, in a twist, matches up perfectly with this version of the Wildcats.Recent Kentucky teams, for all their success, have never willingly played at a Williams-level pace. Over seven seasons, Caliparis UK teams have averaged 67.1 (adjusted, per KenPom.com) possessions per game. This season, they average 75.9; their mean possession ends in 13.5 seconds, fourth-fastest in the country. Theyre flying with Fox-led fast breaks and rebound runouts and Briscoe open-court creativity. The results have been impressive -- even against UCLA, when UK scored 92 points in 83 possessions, only to find itself outdone by an even better, even faster offensive team.That is the question posed by Saturdays matchup in Las Vegas: Can Caliparis team, as athletic and talented and fast as it is, sustain this style? Are the Wildcats so good that it can work against a team such as UNC, which is designed from the ground up to do the exact same thing (and which is vastly more experienced than Kentucky)? Can the Wildcats do so while keeping the nations best offensive rebounding team off the boards? Are they good enough to do so? How good are they, anyway?Probably really good! But lets see how Saturday -- and, not for nothing, Wednesdays trip to the Yum! Center -- goes before we decide. Fair?Crossroads ClassicNo. 21 Notre Dame vs. No. 15 Purdue, Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN2No. 18 Butler vs. No. 9 Indiana, Saturday, 5 p.m., BTNCollege basketballs recent vintage has yielded a bumper crop of nonconference events. Sometimes these events produce good basketball. Sometimes they have weird names. Sometimes they -- gasp -- even make money.Rarely, however, are these events so organically obvious that its a wonder they havent existed all along. The Crossroads Classic, which pairs Indianas four marquee college hoops programs, is the most notable exception.As easy as it is to overly romanticize the states love affair with basketball and to reduce a cultural touchstone to pat Jimmy Chitwood references, there are good reasons why you might. Frankly, there is no event in college basketball that manages to capture the culture of the state in which it is held quite like the Crossroads Classic. For one Saturday in December, fans of four different teams, from various corners of a basketball-obsessed geographic area, congregate in one arena -- in the same way they would for, say, the Indiana state high school basketball tournament, which fills the same number of seats in Bankers Life Fieldhouse every season as does the Crossroads Classic. Which is to say, all of them.Its an event so good that it feels as if its always been around. In fact, its only 6 years old. But however successful the idea of pairing Indiana, Butler, Notre Dame and Purdue in one doubleheader has been, its safe to say the basketball itself has probably never been better than it will be Saturday.All four teams are ranked in the top 25. Combined, they are 34-5 on the season. Indiana has toppled Kansas and North Carolina; Butler owns wins over Arizona and Cincinnati; Notre Dame and surprise star Bonzie Colson had Villanova on the ropes for 35 minutes last week; Purdue has the highest efficiency margin of all four.Indeed, no team has more on the line Saturday than the Boilermakers. A neutral-court matchup with Notre Dame -- or a neutral-court matchup at least until the Indiana fans show up -- is the first of Purdues remaining three nonconference games before Big Ten play and the only one with any redeeming résumé value. To date, Matt Painters team has looked generally excellent but failed to hold on against Villanova at home and lost a tight game to Louisville on the road. Analytically speaking, Purdue is obviously good. But above all else, the NCAA tournament selection committee cares about wins and losses, and this is the Boilermakers last chance to impress before conference play begins. (Oh, and by the way, Purdue has yet to win in the first five years of the Crossroads Classic. The Boilers would very much like for that to change.)Saturdays Indiana-focused basketball will be as good as it ever has been. Thats not really the point. In an era flush with nonconference doubleheaders, most of which contain almost zero thematic or cultural resonance, the on-court product at the Crossroads Classic could be garbage and still be pretty rad. Fortunately, the basketball will be good, too.Cheap Air Max 1 Free Shipping . Robredo, ranked No. 16, bounced back from an upset loss to Leonardo Mayer in the second round of the Royal Guard Open in Chile last week to down Carreno Busta in 1 hour, 25 minutes. On a day filled mostly with qualifying matches, fifth-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain also entered the second with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 win over Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, while Guido Pella of Argentina defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 7-6 (6), 6-4 to advance. Cheap Air Max 1 Sale . -- Jimmie Johnson held off a teammate, passed a pair of Hall of Famers, and dominated once more at Dover. http://www.cheapairmax1.net/ . Its an influence in football and a big part of the game. Discount Air Max 1 . Goals from Jerome Boateng, Franck Ribery and Thomas Mueller extended Bayerns unbeaten run to a record 37 matches. "This record is incredible," Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said. Air Max 1 Mens Sale . The visitors took a deserved lead in the 16th minute with midfielder Yohan Cabaye curling the ball beyond Adrian from inside the penalty area.ANTWERP, Belgium -- Third-seeded Richard Gasquet of France was untroubled on his serve as be beat Inigo Cervantes 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the European Open on Wednesday.Gasquet won 92 percent of his points on first serve, did not face a single break point and broke the Spaniards serve three times in a lopsided match. Gasquet next faces either fifth-seeded countryman Gilles Simon or Germanys Jan-Lennard Struff.Joining Gasquet in the last eight were fourth-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and Italian Andreas Seppi.Cuevas beat Slovak qualifier Jozef Kovalik 6-4, 7-6 (4), firing 111 aces in their second-round match.ddddddddddddeppi beat Dutchman Robin Haase 7-5, 7-5 and next faces second-seeded Ferrer or Britain player Kyle Edmund.In remaining first-round action, Simon beat Germany qualifier Yannick Maden, 6-3, 6-2. Simon, a losing semifinalist to Andy Murray at the Shanghai Masters last weekend, was ruthless in converting five of six break-point chances.Wildcard entry Steve Darcis of Belgium rallied to beat Benoit Paire 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-4. ' ' '
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