Detailing One Of College Basketball’s Most Passionate Rivalries: Kentucky vs. Louisville
The Kentucky Wildcats have long enjoyed the prestige of having the most successful all-around college basketball program, having sent the most players to the NBA while having won the second-most national championships with eight. They had a record 26 players on opening-day rosters this year.
When it comes to sports, every school has a rivalry, and in the case of Kentucky, the Louisville Cardinals have been a thorn in their side for a very long time. The rivalry, known as the “Battle for the Bluegrass” is one of the most bitter in men’s college basketball and is fueled by the relatively short distance between universities.
One of the most passionate in the NCAA, the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry has been ranked at No. 2 by Bleacher Report where it pertains to college basketball while Hall of Fame announcer Dick Vitale reckons it’s the third best in all of college sports.
The competition between the two schools has gotten more and more intense ever since it kicked off in 1983 and provides a spectacle every year. Given the latest legislation changes, betting will become another factor where it’s concerned as it will add yet another competitive angle. Kentucky sports betting will hand both Wildcats and Louisville fans the opportunity to place bets on games, taking the excitement to yet another level while helping boost the economy of the Bluegrass State.
So, for a bit of history…
The two schools first clashed in 1913 but stopped playing each other in the 1920s as they would only meet 12 times between 1913 and 1983. It’s in that latter year that things really soured as they met in the NCAA tournament and, since then, they have met every year in either late December or early January.
Given that both teams have been among college basketball’s best teams over the last 50 years, things have hardly been friendly between them. As noted above, the Wildcats rank No. 2 on the list of all-time title wins, only behind UCLA (11). The Cardinals are five spots below in seventh place, dropping one spot after UConn won the NCAA Tournament this year.
Louisville has won three championships, though the NCAA has vacated one.
Regarding the NBA Draft, both programs are in the top 10 of teams that have had players picked in the first round, with Kentucky at 46 and Louisville at 24.
The flames were stoked when Rick Pitino took over as Louisville’s head coach in 2001, having coached the Wildcats from 1989 to 1997. There is hardly a need to explain why Kentucky fans would have been upset by such an appointment.
Coaches have also bought into the rivalry. UK’s head coach, John Calipari is famous for his brash personality and for speaking his mind while Pitino, though a former coach, was just as abrasive and had a knack for lighting fires under his players.
Calipari hasn’t shied away from taking jabs at Louisville but, one season, he refused to make any mention of them and prompted a “Louisville does not exist” campaign among fans as it took on a life of its own.
“Four things I’ve learned in my 59 years about people. I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant and I ignore the paranoid,” Pitino said in response.
Kentucky won 12 of the meets between the teams while Pitino was in charge at Louisville, with the Cardinals winning six games. Kentucky has also had the overall advantage, winning 18 games to Louisville’s 17.
The schools have met in the NCAA Tournament on six occasions since 2014. The Wildcats have won four of those games.
They clashed in the Final Four in 2012, which marks the most high-profile game they’ve ever been in together – the Wildcats won that one 69-61. They also met in the Sweet 16 in 2014, with Kentucky winning that one as well.
So yes, this rivalry is one of the most heated in all of sports.
The two schools are in the same state and their campuses are just 80 miles apart, which suggests that the rivalry is not limited to the court.