Play It Forward Dec. 15-21: If UCLA basketball thought Gonzaga was a handful … here’s No. 1 Kentucky

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

ncb_u_calinet_cr_576COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA vs. KENTUCKY
Details/TV: At United Center in Chicago, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 2:
9780143127086_p0_v1_s260x420You might remember that in his latest book, “Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out,” Kentucky coach John Calipari wrote about how he despises the NBA rule that entices college kids to play just one year before they’re lured into thinking they’re professionally ready. “I’ve made it work for the teams I coach — and for the players — as best I can. But I don’t like it one bit,” he wrote. “Some people say I’m renting players or I’m working the system. Let me make this very clear: I want to coach players for four years.” So look at what the No. 1 Wildcats have here: Of the five who started in their runaway 84-70 triumph over No. 21 North Carolina the other day, improving to 11-0 this season, there was two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. And was only because another star junior, Alex Poythress, couldn’t play because of a season-ending knee injury in practice. For UCLA (8-3), it’s a freshman, two sophs, a junior and a senior who’ll get some optimal TV time in this contest, even if Steve Alford’s team may not be ready for it (you saw that game against Gonzaga, right?) UCLA hasn’t played Kentucky since a 73-68 win over the Wildcats in the 2006 Maui Invitational. We’re not sure if any of the players on each current rosters were even born then. This is the second half of a made-for-CBS neutral-site, “Final Four”-feel doubleheader, following North Carolina-Ohio State in the 10 a.m. opener

THE BEST OF THE REST:

The Kings’ next two games — Tuesday in St. Louis, and Thursday at home against the Blues — might see the return of 42-year-old Marty Brodeur in the net, as he makes good on a one-year contract with St. Louis (20-8-2) with Brian Elliott out and Jake Allen trying to cover things up. … The Clippers, losers of two straight after nine wins in a row, face Detroit at home on Monday, as the Pistons have won back-to-back road games to polish up their record to 5-19 …  More at this link.

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