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Jeff Eisenberg

Can Kentucky pluck Marquis Teague from Louisville?

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Until John Calipari arrived at Kentucky last spring, it appeared to be a foregone conclusion that highly touted guard Marquis Teague would sign with Louisville.

Rick Pitino has been recruiting Teague since he entered high school. He coached the Indianapolis native's father, Shawn, at Boston University. He even hired Shabaka Lands, a former assistant at Teague's high school, to serve as "special assistant."

All these connections Louisville has with Teague make it all the more frustrating for Cardinals fans that Teague may don a blue cap instead of a red one when he announces his college selection on Thursday. Louisville and Kentucky are considered co-favorites by recruiting experts, though Rivals.com's No. 2 rated player in the class of 2011 is also considering Purdue, Cincinnati and Indiana.

Because Teague's recruitment has evolved into a head-to-head battle between two coaches and programs who aren't fond of each other, interest in the Commonwealth of Kentucky is sky-high in the 6-foot-2 guard's announcement. Of course, the difference is that Kentucky wants Teague, but Louisville desperately needs him.

Whereas the Wildcats have a top-five recruiting class in 2010 and have already landed the class of 2011's consensus No. 1 prospect, Michael Gilchrist, the Cardinals' recruiting has slipped a bit of late. They barely snuck into the NCAA tournament last season, they only have two new recruits signed for 2010 and high-profile class of 2011 center Michael Chandler just reopened his recruitment on Saturday after originally pledging to Louisville.

If Louisville can land Teague and he's as good as advertised, the Cardinals maintain hope of challenging Kentucky for state supremacy. If not, Pitino will have to scramble to avoid a second straight disappointing recruiting class and Calipari's Wildcats will tighten their grip on the Bluegrass state.

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