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The Case for a Commonwealth Classic


Good morning, valued reader. I sincerely hope your weekend was filled with as much happiness and as little mall traffic as possible, and that your thirst for Wildcat basketball was quenched with the Cats’ return to Rupp.  A week without UK basketball is cruel and unusual punishment, and here’s to hoping that someone takes legal action (we’re looking at you, Heavy Hitter) to prevent any future abuse of this nature to the Big Blue Nation.

My weekend was filled with cornfields, basketball, and more cornfields, as I spent the last 36 hours traversing the Crossroads of America, without once using the state of Indiana for its God-given purpose–to take me somewhere better. On the way to Notre Dame (which, by the way, is definitely worth a trip to see) to watch the UK women’s team (which, by the way, is definitely worth a trip to see) take on the Irish, I stumbled upon a real treat for any basketball fan.

The Crossroads Classic, a now annual event hosted in Indianapolis’s Conseco Fieldhouse, brings together four of Indiana’s top college basketball programs for a double-header, selling out the arena’s nearly 20,000 seats and bringing together fans who clearly love to hate each other. I was in attendance for both games on Saturday, and while the contests did not feature the sexiest matchups I’ve ever seen (Butler used a late put-back to beat a Purdue team that treats big leads like wet bars of soap in the first game, while an unimpressive performance from IU was enough to take down the worst Notre Dame squad in recent memory in the second), the atmosphere was electric and the tradition in the building evident. This was more than a day of basketball in downtown Indy. This was a celebration of  basketball fans across the state–a showcase of passion and grit, of love and hatred, that piqued my interest despite the fact that my team was absent from the festivities.

So, I wondered, why not have this type of event in the Bluegrass? The commonwealth holds several tradition-rich programs within its borders, each with its own claim to fame, albeit on different levels. Besides the obvious powerhouses in UK and, to a lesser extent, U of L (had to throw the disclaimer in there), Western Kentucky has built a rather respectable program of its own, capped by its 2008 run to the Sweet Sixteen. Murray State, of course, just cracked the top 25 after a 12-0 start and an upset win over Memphis, and Morehead State is enjoying some recent success after sending the Dirty Birds packing last March. Eastern Kentucky…well…they earned berths to the Big Dance in ’05 and ’07, and will occasionally put a decent group of shooters together. I’m envisioning a triple-header featuring UK, Louisville, and Western divvying up the Ohio Valley Conference teams, rotating between the three every year. Alternatively, and perhaps more likely, we could adopt the schedule used by the Crossroads Classic, playing two games in a double-header format, one game featuring Louisville and the other Kentucky, alternating participants between the four other schools.

Of course, there are a couple of obstacles to hosting such an event in the Bluegrass. First, where in the commonwealth would be considered a good “neutral” site? My immediate answer is Freedom Hall, but I don’t claim to have enough knowledge concerning scheduling events like this one to comment on the feasibility of using Rupp Arena Upstate. Regardless, though, I hardly expect that finding a venue would be the most challenging issue. My primary concern, as a fan of college basketball, would be choosing a system that best displays Kentucky’s best teams. If the double-header system were to be adopted, there is a possibility that the best of the four “lesser” teams will be excluded in any given year. For example, if this year happened to be Murray State’s off year in the classic, fans would miss the opportunity to see a high quality intrastate meeting. There are several options for the scheduling of games if such an event were to take place, and deciding on one that works best will take some work. However, as long as both Kentucky and Louisville are involved, the classic should be a guaranteed success.

The slogan on the popcorn buckets at Conseco read, “In 49 states, it’s just basketball. But this is Indiana.” How cute. In fact, it was almost as cute as Louisville claiming to be the “best college sports town in America.” While Kentucky certainly does not need slogans on overpriced buckets of popped corn to prove its status as the basketball capital of the world, a Commonwealth Classic would offer a unique opportunity for the most passionate players, coaches, and fans in the country to come together and celebrate the state’s unparalleled round ball tradition. Let’s make it happen. Otherwise, I’ll have to go back to Indiana every year to see something like it. Talk about cruel and unusual.


Article written by Adam Schilt

55 Comments for The Case for a Commonwealth Classic

  1. GoCats2
    9:11 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    I would like to see us pick up a home and home with Xavier.
    By the way, I just realized the Thursday game is at 1PM??? I finally get on 1st shift and then we have a day game in the middle of the week? It was a miserable the last 2 weeks with no game during the week but its almost worse to have a game in the middle of the week that I cant even watch!

  2. DeCat
    9:12 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Would be a great idea for Kentuckians, but would it ultimately help better prepare the team for March? UK vs. Murray State / Eastern / Morehead would be a repeat of our beat down of the Mocs.

  3. Perry
    9:14 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Great idea, maybe even use Rupp and the Bucket playing games on the same day and rotate championship game rotated between both stadiums! Add the girls team as well and really make it a Bluegrass event! (I like Bluegrass games instead of Commonwealth)

  4. Democrat
    9:14 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    You can’t even begin to fathom how bad Eastern and Morehead are right now. Kenneth Faried isn’t coming back to Morehead anytime soon. Kentucky, Louisville, and Murray are good and will be good for awhile, but there isn’t a fourth team that you could pick up to get a second game. You would be better off to put Bellarmine in a slot than Morehead or Eastern.

  5. JohnnyRed
    9:15 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Do some deeper research and you will find that WKU has a VERY rich tradition. E.A. Diddle was one of the most accomplished coaches of all time. The WKU program has the 16th most victories in the history of the NCAA (according to Wikipedia). The Hilltoppers went to the Final Four in 1971, but that appearance was vacated because All-American Jim McDaniels had signed with an agent. Sidenote – in thate year’s NCAA Regional semi-finals, WKU destroyed UK 107-83.

  6. Al's IndiCats
    9:15 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    UK used to have the UKIT back in the day where we’d bring in 3 other teams and have a winner take all. The first two games were on Friday night with the winners would be the final game on Saturday night. My family would come to Lexington for the weekend and we would refill our Blue and White experience for the rest of the year. (It owuld be the only way we could get some games in person because it generally happened at winter break) But alas, the “Adulterer” quashed that after his 2nd or 3rd year at the helm thus ending our yearly Trek to God’s country…..Damn You Adulterer!

  7. CatfaninNashvegas
    9:16 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Why cant teams like UTC, Lamar, and Marist be replaced with Murray St, WKU, Morehead, or Eastern?

  8. the upland south
    9:17 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    This article is retarded. We are Kentucky, we don’t need to market our brand anymore while giving up another cupcake game to Murray/Eastern/Western/Morehead annually. No disrespect to those teams, but we are debating eliminating games like unc or indiana, we don’t need to be adding these games. And just beating little bro once a year is fine by me, other than that, I wish that city was part of Indiana, it just sounds right, Louisville, Indiana.

  9. Agreed
    9:17 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    2) as far as that goes, wouldn’t uk vs. murra or morehead at Freedom Hall be more helpful to the team, and the fans for that matter, than playing ark-little rock in louisville? i think something like this would be a lot of fun. don’t know how likely it is, but it’s an idea.

  10. Another Perspective
    9:26 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    This was just a space-filler. We’re not Indiana which has multiple legitimate top programs. We’ve only got UK.(You can count Loserville if you want to but we already play them so…)

  11. Real Talk
    9:27 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    In response to #4….If there’s no legitimate 4th team, people seem to know little about the Northern Kentucky University Norse’s. We were formally a Division 2 powerhouse, (in all of our sports) And we are making the move to Division 1 next year I believe. What better way for NKU to potentially make a statement and Just have their name put out to the Commonwealth as a new team to root for?? They are my suggestion for the 4th team. Research NKU’s basketball team! I think most could agree that they would be a great 4th team! ((P.S. Nku beat West Virginia in the preseason!!!!!!)

  12. PaperView
    9:28 am December 19, 2011 Permalink


  13. Mendacity
    9:29 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    #12, Don’t read it then…

  14. Used to do something similar
    9:31 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Not focused necessarily on “In-State” Teams – but UK used to do the UKIT around Christmas time – I think Pitino ended it when he came to Kentucky.

    Assuming we get the new arena built – might be decent idea to revive the UKIT with the in-state schools… if we are going to play lower tier teams – might as well make them in-state – like Morehead or Eastern. Murray State and Western even – make it a bit more exciting… good quality teams… but.. also teams Kentucky should be able to handle.

  15. jim
    9:32 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    #10= troll

  16. Hoss
    9:36 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Geez, we need some games or something. These writers continually forcing topics is getting extremely tiring and sucking the “it” factor out of this site with the quickness.

  17. scott
    9:38 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    You could hold it at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

  18. 2020
    9:39 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Boring. Host it at Rupp, but leave UK and UL out of it.

  19. Me
    9:40 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Good Idea, I’ve been thinking the same thing lately and I say have a 5 team tournament, called the Kentucky invitational and rotate the location. Have a blind draw every year for seeding and the buy. Start it on Friday night and go until Sunday. One game Friday, 2 Saturday, the consi and ship on Sunday. That would be a better deal than playing all these scrub teams UK/UL plays at the beginning of the year. Keeps all the money in state because you know it will sell out between the 5 or 6 schools fans in any arena. For the cash grab it may be best to alternate between Rupp/Yum. Take UK/UL off the schedule and if they meet here they meet, if not they don’t. I would love it.

  20. RidgeRunner
    9:41 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Yes, I like the idea. I’d like to see something like that held simular to the old UKIT but we bring in state teams in.

  21. Hoss
    9:42 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Next article: What IF the Sky Falls? How Does that Affect The New Rupp?

    Are smurfs UK fans, too?

    Riveting journalism.

    You guys can do SO much better. I know, I’ve seen it.

  22. David Elswick
    9:44 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    I LIKE this idea a lot! A Commonwealth Classic would be something that most fans would look forward to every year. Great idea!

  23. wilDCat
    9:45 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    I personally like the idea. I don’t live in the state anymore but I’d enjoy a trek back to Lexington to watch such an event if it were to occur.

  24. David Elswick
    9:45 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Okay Hoss, what do you have? Bring something to the table or shut the hell up.

    What a douche bag.

  25. jim
    9:50 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    #24-i agree

  26. James
    9:51 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Not only should UK do a commonwealth classic but UK should do a throwback classic in memorial colliseum. They should play a team like notre damn or that Texas team that beat us a long time ago. They should wear throwback jerseys (preferably the denim ones) and only students and faculty should be allowed tickets. Too bad money ruins any chance of that ever happening unless they could be on national TV. That would be an environment like no other. By the way, Bellermine’s Knight’s Hall would be a good neuttral location for a commonwealth classic only if bellermine was not included.

  27. RidgeRunner
    9:53 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    26…Notre Damn, nice. Not a bitch thing….but cool! lol

  28. James
    9:57 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Ya it was a pun.

  29. shields eyes
    9:59 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Can we please get the stupid last second shot by Indiana of the “Best of the Best” on Sportscenter? Go to SportsNation and vote for whatever the other play is.

  30. Dacci
    9:59 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    I love the idea, but don’t forget NKU. They just moved to D1, and they have a rich history of DII success. EKU hasn’t been to the dance since 07′ but they have fared well against many BCS conference opponents in recent years. My biggest concern for the event would be UL being reluctant to participate just due to location of the event.

  31. RidgeRunner
    9:59 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    28…I hear ya man.

    Somebody may remember better than I but I think the old UKIT did this. Anyway, we could have an all-classic team announced at the end where granted UK would have 2 players named usually but still it would be good for the lesser schools to strive and put a player on the team of stars who played in the classic.

  32. UK Rifle > WVU Rifle
    10:02 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Adam Schilt :

    I agree on your thoughts about Notre Dame. That campus is beautiful and well designed. It also had no trash or advertising anywhere on that campus! They also support their women’s team with at least several “SOLD OUT” games already this season. Where did you sit for the game? Getting to Indy was a breeze, but that road from Indy to South Bend was like an episode of the Twilight Zone!

    On your other point, I say return to the old days and do the Big 4 again for a younger crowd to new to remember. UK and UL vs IU and Notre Dame in Lucas as a double header. UL plays IU, because they already play Notre Dame in conference and UK plays Notre Dame because they already have the IU game.

  33. nawlij
    10:07 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Automatically including Western is a dumb idea…Murray State has a winning record against Western since 1982.

  34. Deacon
    10:44 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    It is a natural. Have a 3 day tournament on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Western, Morehead,
    Eastern and Murray would play each other on Friday. The winners would advance to Saturday
    play against Louisville and Kentucky in opposite brackets. The winners would meet on Sunday.
    Stage the event in Rupp one year and the Yummie! the next year. This would be UK-U of L’s
    annual game if they were good enough to advance to finals.

  35. GetWithIt
    10:51 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Seriously – I think this is a great idea. For those out there that really enjoys basketball, and not just UK basketball, this can be a great event. I was in Indy this past weekend to watch the double header. And it was great to see the 4 programs play. The atmosphere was like an NCAA tourney feel, with all the schools, fans, students and bands. IU and PU will play twice this year, but to see them in action not against each other was great. And Butler, however they won against Purdue is amazing. Think outside the Rupp sometimes, and you’ll appreciate the sport of college basketball more. UK is the greatest, and always will be, but I wish everyone would just get over it.

  36. Wow!!
    11:00 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    You all crying about the IU game, give it up!! We have bigger things to take care of! Like, PINKY CONTUSSIONS!!!

  37. KDOGG10
    11:01 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    This article was way too long with too many words for a Monday morning, it felt like I was reading a mini-essay. Anyway, I don’t see were a Kentucky tourny benefits UK at all. Not only that, it gives the other state schools a chance to get destroyed year-in, year-out. Because of the constant turn-over with UK due to our one and done recruits, we need quality non-conference opponents and tough road games to battle test these young guys. You can’t be ready for March if you play a cupcake schedule all at Rupp Arena. We need to have big games: UNC, Duke, UofL, Kansas, UCLA, Mich St. etc as the norm. Keep IU, play the soft teams for the first 3-4 games and then take on all comers. Make these stud recruits play other top players which will only help but benefit UK in the latter part of the year.

  38. mgtf55dy
    11:05 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Great idea. Take the top four teams in the state, whoever they are. UL could be one of the teams if we drop them from the regular schedule. If UL remains on the reular schedule, they would be excluded. The highest ranked team (most likely UK) would play the fourth highest ranked team and the second and third ranked teams would play. This would be on Friday. On Saturday, the Friday night winners would play and the Friday night losers would play. The location could rotate as desired.

  39. Ncaa
    11:07 am December 19, 2011 Permalink


  40. BlueHilltopper
    11:09 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    I don’t understand why so many people are talking about how this doesn’t benefit UK. Have you seen the number of cupcake teams we play already, especially the one against Arkansas Little Rock at Freedom Hall. I say get rid of that game and put something like this in. It’s not just about UK…it’s for the fans of the state with the best college basketball tradition.

    And these guys get to post like what, once a week, so of course they want to write a lot. Especially after seeing the games in Indy in person, there was a lot to say for the atmosphere. Nice post.

  41. gokycats33
    11:16 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    1… I will be at the Thursday game! This will be my very first one at Rupp! I know it is during Christmas break, but I am still excited about going. Also going to the UK Hoops game the night before!

  42. What
    11:27 am December 19, 2011 Permalink

    #33 western is 18 – 22 in NCAA Tourney play and has tradition, Murray is 2 – 14 and plays in a garbage conference. Murray against Western is a BIG game…..for Murray!

  43. old_school
    12:13 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    I used to like the Big Four classic up in Indy where they pitted UK vs. Notre Dame and IU vs. Louisville – kind of a bragging rights contest for the two basketball-crazed states. That could be expanded to an eight game field – include Murray and Western and Butler and Purdue

    This year you’d have
    Louisville vs. IU
    Kentucky vs. Notre Dame
    Western vs. Purdue
    Murray vs. Butler

    Other than the UK-Notre Dame game – all would probably be very competititve and the state of Kentucky would have a great chance with coming away with at least three wins.

    But if it’s just a Commonwealth Classic – then I’d propose something really outside the box.

    Invite UK, Murray, Morehead, Eastern, Western, NKU and Louisville – those are Kentucky’s Div. 1 schools as of next year. Also invite on a rotating basis – a team like Bellermine, Ky. Weslyan, Georgetown or Pikeville (schools that have recently won national titles in thier division)

    Now – tickets will be pre-sold – but here’s the kicker. Matchups will be determined by a drawing 24-48 hours before tip-off and proceeds would go Kosair’s Children Hospital or some other worhty cause.

    Yes – that would possibly result in a UK – UofL matchup – which even the prospect of such a game woudl drive ticket sales.

    It would be a one-of-a-kind event in college basketball – basically arriving in town one day before the game unsure who you will be playing.

  44. Lovely
    12:37 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Well, we always play one KY team in at least a scrimmage anyway, so maybe we could make it a preseason event, a way to kick off the basketball season.

  45. Cristoforouk
    12:46 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    NKU will be D1 next year. Don’t forget about them.

  46. nawlij
    12:57 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    #42…Western has been Murray’s bottom bitch since you left the OVC….get over yourself.

  47. Hardline Charlie
    1:17 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Calipari has a greater vision than this for the team.

  48. 2581
    1:36 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    As a Notre Dame fan, I’m thankful the Irish men don’t play UK this year. It would be brutal to watch… Yes, the old Big 4 Classic with UK, Louisville, IU & ND was great, but if that’s not possible to resurrect, a Commonwealth Classic with UK, Louisville, Western and Murry is a fine idea. It would be competitive most years.

  49. 2581
    1:48 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    By the way, the UK @ ND women’s game yesterday was a classic. ND had five players in double figures and two – Skylar Diggins & Devereaux Peters – had double-doubles. Although Skylar hit the big 3 and made the headlines in today’s papers, she didn’t play as well as she usually does… (still no UK player could guard her). Credit Natalie Novosel (of Lexington Catholic) – 23 points & 7 rebounds – with leading the Irish to victory. Other than fouling out, A’dia Mathies played a tremendous game for UK (she’s a stud). Samantha Drake was a force as well.

  50. Token2 Extreme
    2:02 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    How about a “Cupcake” tournament – all Kentucky Division 1 BB schools compete double elimination – winner to play UK/UL winner for state crowing rights?

  51. Brian Storn
    2:04 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    First, the game has to be played centrally which, oc, means in Lex @ Rupp. Second, there you go again, forgetting about the growth engine of KentuckY for the past 3-decades – NortherN KentuckY (University). NKY was a top D2 school playing in several D2 NC’s and just recently knocked-off Hugg’s WVU and will be D1 very soon, if they have not already made that leap.

    So while, Indiana only has four worthy teams, KY has seven in: UK, UoL, WKU, EKU, NKU, Murrary State, and Morehead State. So if we are going to do this, let’s do it right and make it one of those old-time Christmas college tournaments where the Tier Two teams (WKU, EKU, NKU, MSUs, just in case there was any doubt) play two or three game and the UK & UoL play one or two games over the weekend.

    Also, this seems like a good time to bring up a round-robin style tournament that i recommended to AD MB a few years ago: The WildCat Face-off b/n, oc, KentuckY – Arizona – Kansas State – & – Villanova. The yearly winner getting to claim the title King of the Cats (or Kats in KentuckY’s case.)!

    They need to just lengthen the season. Every other sports, particularly pro BBs, need to shorten but CBB needs to lengthen. Merry Christmas Everyone! The Max

  52. CatBlue in LR
    2:30 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    I miss the UKIT.

    Great memories of trimming the Christmas tree as a family with Cawood on the crackly radio calling the UKIT. Ahhh, the good ole’ days…

  53. Football man
    2:47 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    Went to a Notre Dame football game this year, and it truly is a special place!

  54. silverfox
    4:01 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    How about the four state teams be seeded two weeks before game date with 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs.3 on Thursday night and the winners playing UK and UL according to their ranking as of same date, with those games played Saturday afternoon. Would not leave out someone, and would be nice income opportunity for each school. That is a real Commonwealth event!

  55. CWat4threee
    4:32 pm December 19, 2011 Permalink

    51….Indiana only has 4 worthy teams? Indiana, Purdue, Norte Dame, Butler, Indiana St (just beat Vandy), Ball State, Valpariso, IUPUI, IUPUFW (D1), Evansville…I count 10 D1 basketball schools….