It has been a little while since the GameDay crew last set up in Lexington. John Calipari was in his first season as head coach at Kentucky, and the honeymoon of the resurgence of Wildcat basketball was still lingering all across Big Blue Nation. Two and a half seasons, and one national championship later, ESPN’s Saturday show is back, and ready to cover another marquee matchup — at least in the eye of Kentucky fans.
A win over Missouri means the Cats are likely to make the Big Dance. A loss makes the road into the field of 68 all the more difficult. Fortunately for Kentucky, Missouri has struggled mightily on the road this season, posting a 4-6 overall record, including just 1-5 in Southeastern Conference play. The lone SEC win came last week against an abysmal Mississippi State team.
What’s more, College GameDay brings with it a great deal of excitement; an added level of enthusiasm which travels all across the country to every stop. Kentucky would know. They are the record-holder for largest show crowd in GameDay history when more than 22,000 people crammed into Rupp Arena in 2010, which led to a wild environment as the No. 2 Wildcats knocked off No. 12 Tennessee by 11 points.
No team needs the extra roar from the crowd more than your Wildcats do right now. Teetering on the verge of an NIT season, GameDay arrives in Lexington just in time to help push the Cats on the right side of the postseason fence.
The GameDay advantage is real. Since appearing in Lexington last, home teams have posted a 19-7 record. Furthermore, this season home teams are undefeated, going a perfect 5-0 leading up to Saturday’s Kentucky vs. Missouri showdown.
Even more interesting, in the last four years there have only been four matchups of unranked teams on GameDay. Twenty-eight games and only four unranked matchups is impressive for the GameDay crew’s selection process, but the good news for Kentucky fans, is the home team won those four games three times.
Big upsets on GameDay are rare. Only three have occurred in the last four years: No. 5 Michigan State falling to unranked Illinois in 2010, No. 1 Duke losing to unranked Virginia Tech in 2011, and No. 3 North Carolina dropping one to unranked Florida State in 2012. And in all three of those games, the ranked team upset happened on the road; likely due to that enhanced home court advantage.
Numbers and history don’t guarantee anything. The Wildcats must come out and fight for a full 40 minutes like this is the last game of the season. Give the Tigers any opportunity to steal another road win for their resume; you can bet they’ll capitalize. But the fans must do their part to make the GameDay advantage real. It is in your hands. Be loud, be proud, and did I mention, be loud?