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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Why Is Vanderbilt Not a Major Basketball Rivalry For Us?


When you search through the UK record books, especially when it comes to SEC opponents, you are not going to find any school that has really been Kentucky’s “equal” over the last 75 years.  Tennessee is probably the best option, having beat Kentucky 71 times in their histories, by far the most of any opponent.  But next up on that list is Vanderbilt, believe it or not.  Vanderbilt has beaten the Cats 47 different times in their series history, including a 41-point drubbing in 2008, the largest SEC loss in UK history.

But, Kentucky is currently riding a 4-game winning streak against the Commodores, and barring a complete collapse, it will likely push to 5 games tomorrow night.  No big deal, right?  Actually, it is quite rare.  Kentucky hasn’t held a 5-game winning streak over Vandy since they won 18 games in a row between 1993 and 2002.  Since that time, Kentucky is just 22-12 against Vandy, with only Florida holding a better win percentage over the Cats in that same time frame.  But in that same time frame, Kentucky actually holds THREE different streaks of 5 wins or more against the Gators. 

My point is I don’t think UK fans consider Vanderbilt to be a rival.  Certainly they consider Florida and Tennessee to be bigger rivals.  And there was a time that I think many considered Arkansas to be a bigger rival.  But if we look for the most COMPETITIVE matchup for the Cats over the past 15 years or so, Vanderbilt stacks up with anybody in the league.  They’ve beaten us in Nashville and in Lexington.  They have often given our best teams the best games.  They’ve knocked us out of the SEC Tournament 3 times in that span.

So should we start considering Vanderbilt as a major rival in this league?  And if not, why?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

19 responses to “BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Why Is Vanderbilt Not a Major Basketball Rivalry For Us?”

  1. RackEmWillie

    A major rival? Nah.

    But, behind Florida and Tennessee, I’d put Vandy at 3rd. And with the rest of the league, I wouldn’t even remotely consider them a rival at all.

  2. henderblue

    No. Because they’re Vanderbilt??

  3. Bobby Coe

    Back in the day, before at large bids to the NCAA tournament. When the regular season actually meant something. The Roy Skinner coached Commodores were a feared rival along with Tennessee. Usually the team that won the better part of games among these three had the tournament bid. The others stayed home.
    When one conference loss might prevent a trip to the tournament a coach could not afford the “process” of making a team out of a group of youngsters just out of high school. Incidentally during these times, freshman were prohibited from playing. A return to that rule would solve the one and done issue.

    1. serdi

      What Bobby Coe said.

      If you are 55 years old or older you know Vanderbilt is a “respected rival.” Especially during the time when Paducah native Roy Skinner was the coach and 40-60 % of of VU players were Kentuckians.

      Despite some down years, they are still at the top of my list as the “respected rival.” They care about basketball at Vandy. Really care. Except when they play us, I want Bryce Drew to bring them back to the top!

    2. KYCat4EVER

      Great post and great read Bobby! Thanks!

      It’s another example of the rare, outstanding, and dominating Coach we had at UK in ADOLPH RUPP, how difficult achieving a national championship could be back in the day.

      RUPP set the high program standards all UK fans should be upholding today!

      GO BIG BLUE!

    3. az1006

      Sorry, this is dumb. It’s like saying you can close pandora’s box. Restricting freshman participation in varsity sports was dumb, even then, that’s why they changed the rule. The one-and-done issue isn’t an NCAA issue, it’s an NBA issue. I don’t understand why people can’t seem to grasp that. Most of the one-and-done kids only come to college because league rules prevent them from going to the NBA, and college basketball is better than the alternative of playing overseas or in the G-League. If freshman couldn’t play in the NBA, and couldn’t play in college, where would they play? Come on, get real.

      I’m not bashing history, here. I understand why Vanderbilt and Kentucky was traditionally more of a rivalry than it is today. But this nonsense about going back to barring freshman from playing is one of the dumbest takes I’ve come across in a long time.

    4. Bobby Coe

      What exactly so dumb about going back to freshman ineligibility? One and done is not an NBA issue. The NBA may be able to make a solution, but the problem is a collegiate one. That’s why we talk about it so much.

    5. No more excuses cal

      Great post

    6. runningunnin.454

      True, Coe and Serdi, I remember the Vandy rivalry; and they would get great Kentucky players. The best was Terry Compton from Horse Cave; he was nicknamed the Kentucky Long Rifle.
      “Rupp was recruiting me, but it depended upon what another player did, so UK was out”.
      His teams beat us four straight times, so I would say that was a rivalry.

  4. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

    Because they’re Vandy.

    *And I recognize that the above beat me to it.

    Just because they’ve been better playing us than most does not make them worthy of being a rival. Click bait (and of course I bit, so there’s that).

  5. rainman

    How many of those losses can be attributed to that GODAWFUL floor?

  6. spincr4hire

    Until an upset tomorrow night. Lol

  7. BullittCoCat

    Gonna go out on a stupid limb here and actually agree with BTI. If you’ve spent any time around Vandy fans, they are completely insufferable. I don’t know that I’d call it a rivalry per se, but their fans are definitely the worst.

  8. Sentient Third Eye

    UK has never acknowledged Vandy as a rival because we have higher aspirations.

    1. serdi

      Obviously there is a generation gap in thoughts about Vanderbilt.

  9. The Original WTF Guy

    Thus us stupid. Vandy sucks. The only way they beat us is continuing to play in that shithole they call a gym. UK has no rival in the SEC for a reason and let’s hope it stays that way.

    1. henderblue

      Tennessee has always been a rival in the conference,going back a ways. Lately it’s been Florida and for a short time, Arkansas

  10. bofkentucky

    We don’t recruit the same types of players most of the time

    and

    We take over their town every time we play there.

  11. ukcamel

    The only real rivalry we have in the SEC is Tennessee. We share a border and while we dominate in basketball they dominate in football. We typically beat Vandy in both sports and also they don’t really travel up to Rupp or Commonwealth like the UT fans do. Also I know about 15-20 Vandy grads, most of which aren’t even big Vandy fans, but I know 150+ UT grads. So of course winning against them is more important.