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Kentucky-Louisville: College basketball’s best rivalry

As we move ever closer to tip time on the latest edition of Cats-Cards, one (kind of) national writer has said what many in the Bluegrass have believed for a long time…that UK-UL is the best rivalry in college basketball. In the interest of full disclosure, the writer is Mike Rutherford, and in addition to being the college basketball editor for SB Nation he manages the UofL site ‘Card Chronicle’. Some might say that his work in the state makes him biased on the subject, but what it really means is that he has experienced the rivalry firsthand and thus knows better than most in the media what this game means to the people of this state. It’s simply a bigger deal to us than any game is to any two fan bases, and combining that with two coaches who don’t like each other and its once-a-year occurrence makes it better than any other rivalry. Yes…even the one ESPN spends the entire season telling us about.

The article is pretty long but a great read, so I’ll give you a brief excerpt and then turn you loose on it to get you even more pumped than you were already, as if you needed the help.

Louisville vs. Kentucky is the best this sport has to offer.

The game might not get the “full circle” treatment, it might not garner a week of over-hyped advertising, and it may not feature a man on the television screaming like the fate of the Middle East is at stake, but it simply means vastly more than its top rivalry competition. It means more to the players involved, it means more to the coaches involved, it means more to the fans involved and it means more to the state involved.

Barring a meeting in the NCAA Tournament, the Cards and the Cats get just one crack at each other every year. Forty minutes for 12-months of bragging rights. Forty minutes to avoid embarrassment and harassment at work, in school, or in your own bedroom for 365 days.

If Duke drops the first of the minimum two meetings with North Carolina, then the Cameron Crazies can retreat to their dorms, talk about how they’ll get ’em in a few weeks or in the ACC tournament, pop in season one of BattleStar Galactica (I know, nerd joke) and call it a night.

When the final horn blows in the Battle for the Bluegrass, an entire fan base is instantly forced to come to grips with the terrible truth that they will now be heckled unmercifully for an entire year by friends, co-workers, family, teachers, etc. whom they would undoubtedly stab in an exposed appendage if it weren’t so frowned upon.

Don’t get it twisted, there is no intended exaggeration or hyperbole in this post (except maybe the stabbing part…maybe). There are Kentucky fans who will still discuss the “shame” involved in the 1998 Wildcats falling – in Lexington – to a U of L team that would go on to finish the regular season 12-19. While the national championship > no postseason argument would seem like an effective retort to the uneducated outsider, being able to claim victory in this rivalry is like a one-year unlimited get out-of-jail free card.

The use of “hate” is excessive in almost any context, but this rivalry brings the utilization of the word closer to the cusp of appropriateness than any other.

As a Cat fan that has to live in Louisville, I couldn’t agree more. There’s nothing like the joy of beating the Cards, and nothing like the anxiety of knowing you’ll eventually have to face your friends and coworkers after a loss. And, as we’re reminded by the feeling this evening, there’s nothing like the night before this game. Only one more night’s sleep before we get it going again. I can’t wait much longer, and fortunately I won’t have to.

Go. Big. Blue.

Article written by Hunter Campbell

I used to write here.

14 Comments for Kentucky-Louisville: College basketball’s best rivalry

  1. that one guy
    9:38 pm December 30, 2011 Permalink

    uh oh! hunter is back FIRST

  2. BigBlueLush
    9:43 pm December 30, 2011 Permalink

    Anybody have a stream for UFC tonight?

  3. MS CAT
    9:57 pm December 30, 2011 Permalink

    Is Blackshear playing?

  4. Catbirdlady
    10:00 pm December 30, 2011 Permalink

    Go. Big. Blue.

    Watched the Cards Wednesday night after coming home from Charlotte (I love football, and had the opportunity to take the trip). I knew that we were going to get past Lamar, but I wanted to see what the Cards had against an opponent worthy of the Cats. I wasn’t disappointed in my choice to give away my Lamar ticket and go to Yum – gave me great trepidation for tomorrow, but also great hope. We have to keep Terrance in the game, we have to keep Anthony out of foul trouble, and if we do that, UofL can do what they want, we win by 15. If not, it will be much closer, but after watching the games Wednesday, my pick is the Cats, regardless.

    GO. BIG. BLUE!

  5. WildcatFan
    10:11 pm December 30, 2011 Permalink

    I have been a Cat fan all of my life. I remember the 1958 championship season so I have seen a lot of UK basketball. I still don’t get this UK/UL rivalry thing. To me it is no more important than Lamar. If we win, it was a game we were supposed to win. If we lose, it really will have little overall impact. Our tournament seeding will still mostly be determined by how the sec conference goes. To me, UNC and Tennessee are the big games. Playing UL is like playing a mid major, they are just another school stuck away in an unimportant town.

  6. that one guy
    10:24 pm December 30, 2011 Permalink

    WildcatFan you are right. It’s just another game. I take it that you don’t live in louisville? Hearing cardinals cherp in my ear all the time is annoying! This game will shut some of them up….

  7. It's Loserville, not louisville
    10:25 pm December 30, 2011 Permalink

    Husbands: Lock your wives up. Rick Fifteeno is in town and his pants are down.

  8. DaviswiththeFlush
    10:39 pm December 30, 2011 Permalink

    Brandon Jennings is abusing John Wall. He’s treating him like a $5 [email protected]

  9. nolablue
    11:22 pm December 30, 2011 Permalink

    WildcatFan, I agree 100%. ***UNLESS*** you live in Louisville. And then it’s all different.
    And I have to say, I disliked the Tardinal school and its fans so strongly, I am thankful to
    be out of that town. Living away from it is such a relief. It’s a nice place to visit, but
    God help the Cats fans who have to live there. GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. chris
    12:33 am December 31, 2011 Permalink

    How is Louisville an unimportant city?
    Where does the cash flow to the rest of the
    commonwealth come from? Uhm, let’s see here… Louisville.
    Keep your opinions to basketball, your backwards political theories just might make you a senator some day.

  11. witchblade
    3:00 am December 31, 2011 Permalink

    Louisville is a great city. That being said they’re basketball team is very unlikable and have terrible, ignorant fans who will be very disappointed come saturday.

  12. Bart Edwards
    3:20 am December 31, 2011 Permalink

    I don’t know of any true UK fan who would agree with all of that childish garbage about hating Louisville because they happen to beat us every now and then. The only people who care more about the U of L game than the North Carolina game are those who live in Louisville and those with only double-digit IQs. We are UK, not Clemson. We have by and large classier, more mature fans who understand that it’s a game, and that our brethren in Louisville are not lower than snake dung just because they went to school somewhere other than UK. Think of how many intermarriages there are.
    Let’s grow up and enjoy the game, and wish UL luck after we beat them. Jiminy.

  13. BigBlueSkyDog
    6:59 am December 31, 2011 Permalink

    It’s less a rivalry to UK fans than to the Dirty Birds. U of L needs this rivalry to continue the delusion that they are relevant. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if UK drops this game to add Kansas or Ohio St. #LouisvilleDoesn’tExist.

  14. Stephen
    8:56 am December 31, 2011 Permalink

    As another Can fan living in Louisville, I too could not agree more with that expert. Thanks Hunter.