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The Biggest Kentucky-Louisville Games, Ranked

Forget Duke-UNC the best rivalry in all of college basketball played in the bluegrass and it isn’t close. In one week one of the biggest games to ever be played in the rivalry will be held in Lexington bu where does it rank among the all time biggest? Here are my choices for the top five biggest UK-Louisville games:

5. Cal-Pitino I

Kentucky Basketball had been starved of relevancy for nearly half a decade when John Calipari arrived and changed that in an instant. Kentucky was back and it was time to show the Cards the new order after losing two straight under BCG. The Cards lacked the firepower to keep up with the Cats as they lost 71-62 but the game would bring Rick Pitino back from the crypt. Speaking of a comeback from Rick..

4. Rick’s Return To Rupp

Rick Pitino did the unthinkable when, after failing in the NBA, he took the head coaching spot at Louisville. After that once unimaginable betrayal Pitino brought his unranked Cardinals into Lexington to face the eighth ranked Cats. Inside a racous and rowdy Rupp the Cats got revenge by crushing the redbirds 82-62. It doesn’t get much bigger than your former coach bringing the arch-rival to your home floor for the first time.

3. The Clash Of Champions

This year’s game had the potential to be the biggest ever when the year began. UK was preseason number 1 and the Cards number 3. Had both teams remained unbeaten we would have witnessed a clash between the previous two champions and the number 1 and 2 teams in the land. The hype meter would have been off the charts. With 4 losses between the teams the game has lost some of the weight it could have carried but it still means a lot for both team’s resumes.

2. The Dream Game

The first ever game between the two teams in the modern era is easily one of the biggest games in the rivalry. Despite happening before I was even born you can gather just how big it was based on the tales of old. Knoxville, TN was the site of the legendary game which saw the Cards take down the Cats in overtime. The two teams have been playing on a yearly basis every since. It’s hard to top anytime the two teams meet in the NCAA tournament. Especailly the next one:

1. Battle In The Final Four

UK-UL. Final Four. No game was bigger and no game was more nerve racking for Cat fans. The Cards made the game ahead of schedule and had nothing to lose. The Cats were the favorites to leave the big dance as champs. The good guys prevailed as you well know 69-61 in the biggest game ever played in the rivalry. The only way to top it would be a similar meeting this season in the final four or even the National Championship. The state would implode.


How do you rank the biggest games of the series and where do you place this year’s matchup?

Article written by Andrew Cassady

Follow me @ACassady_KSR

26 Comments for The Biggest Kentucky-Louisville Games, Ranked

  1. lol
    1:13 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    This years game would be extremely hyped if uk hadn’t lost 3 games already. “With four games lost between them”? Hell, uk has 3

    • TDog
      3:50 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      Louisville has played one ranked team and lost. If UK played their schedule they would have one loss too. Just because Cal plays a harder schedule doesn’t mean you dock UK because of it

    • Proud of What?
      4:00 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      U of L’s schedule is daunting isn’t it?

  2. jq
    1:13 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    This year will be a FARCE!

  3. John
    1:23 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    I realize that it is hard for Kentuckians to believe, but the Duke/Carolina rivalry will always be more intense that UK/UL. I lived in Chapel Hill for 7 years and have lived in KY the rest of my life.

  4. Tennessee Wildcat
    1:33 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Forgotten in these five is the game between UK/UL during the 1983-84 season that was the first scheduled game in the modern era between UK/UL, the season after the dream game that UK lost in the NCAA tourney. This game was one of the most anticipated games in memory, with #2 ranked Kentucky and the twin towers of Bowie/Turpin along with Kenny Walker at small forward, putting a whipping on #6 Louisville, 65-44. I remember that everyone in the state was watching this and it was really hyped for the 1980s.

  5. Tuggerman
    1:42 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    The question is mute if I can’t get a podcast!!!!!!

    • DH
      4:13 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      Moot. The question isn’t silent…

  6. Sean Bratcher
    1:46 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    I’m a little bias when it comes to this rivalry, but the 87 game should be on this list. Cedric Jenkins tip in at the buzzer for the win was epic. I was there and the roof on Rupp just about came off that day.

    • Duh
      2:33 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      What happens in the game is inconsequential to the hype of the game

  7. pfife
    1:58 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    The shots at Rick are idiotic. He’s under appreciated for what he did at KY.

    • N. Yermouth
      4:36 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      Benedict Arnold……also unappreciated ….for what he did for America…….and to America.

  8. harry
    2:05 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    behind final four game (past 10 years match-ups)

  9. bigblue091812
    2:30 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    SLICK RICK can recruit and motivate, he sucks as a X’s and O’s coach. His record againt Tubby was 4-6, 2-0 against Billy G and 1-4 against Cal. I guess he was great against Billy G but for his fans it has to be terrible to know that Tubby beat him head to head, and he could only beat Cal by 3 in the chicken bucket with a national championship team. UK will win this year, we keep hearing how Smith and Jones will score at will, how come no one is talking about the fouls they will have trying to stop Andrew, Aaron and Young from driving to the basket. Cal will be 5-1 after this year and LOSERVILLE can go back to playing CUPCAKE U’s.

  10. JimG.
    2:33 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    In 1975 if TerryHoward of UofL had hit his FT’s at the end of the UCLA Semi-Final game, he was perfect from the line up to that point UK and UL would have played for the National Title. That would have been the biggest on this list. That National Semi-Final game in 2012 was way to close for any UK fans heart.

  11. FurdTurgason
    2:36 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    The Dream Game was the biggest to me. Louisville beat Arkansas on Thursday night so it didn’t have but one day for people to get ready for it. Hardly anyone had seen them play each other before.

    The Final Four was a close second because you had a whole week of hype leading up to it, but UK was by far the better team and had already beaten U of L once that season.

  12. Dennis smith
    2:39 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Hey John, Matt must also have a better than average understanding of which rivalry is more intense since he spent many years in Durham and grew up in KY. Just sayin’ these things are subjective even to the “players”

  13. Rise
    3:08 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Louisville fans already complaining about officiating for the game. They don’t understand that with the new rules and the way UK attacks the rim that is the reason why we get calls. Sure we have had calls go our way with others calls not going our way. Bunch of idiots. Hope we win by 10+.

  14. bigblue091812
    4:18 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    This is really not a rival for the players just the fans. UK players don’t have the experience of playing UL in the past, don’t know their players and could care less about the history between the two. Can you imagine the difference if AD and the Kidd or Cousins and Wall had played LOSERVILLE 3-4 times instead of once or twice, that’s what makes it a rival game. The ghetto rats of LOSERVILLE gets more amped up for this game because they have lived in the state for 2-5 years, listened to the media about being little brother on in the case of the sr’s and jr’s on this team have last 4 of 5 games so they have more to get up for, not playing high school last year. I think we win but it’s not the rival it was several years ago and I wouldn’t trade Cal for Pitino, hell I was glad to see SLICK RICK leave and enjoyed the rival more when Tubby won 6 of 10 against SLICK RICK.

  15. Thomas
    4:25 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    I think you really have to include the 1983 tourney game in Knoxville. It really pushed the season series to begin.

    • Sir Prise
      4:42 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      Thomas…#15….no comprende: Isn’t that represented by the above bullet point #2, “the dream game”, with the cheerleaders all wearing 1983 hair style etc.?

  16. T. Bone Burpnett
    4:59 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    One word: Boogies’elbow

  17. Benedict Arnold's ...Ghost
    5:03 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    Two words: Rick Pitino

  18. UKBlue
    5:12 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

    We better get ready, we are more than likely going to lose this game. I can’t believe I just typed that statement. These kids as Cal said are just not that good; they haven’t been coached in high school, they don’t know basic fundamentals, Andrew having to sit next to Cal on the bench to watch Paulson & learn what to do, these kids don’t play that hard, they don’t understand defense, and all of the were way over hyped. Randle has no outside game, and if you shut down his spin move or the left side of his body he can’t score. Both Twins were over hyped, especially Andrew. Young doesn’t know how to defend; for someone who is supposed to be such a good outside shooter, he is extremely inconsistent & his free throw shooting is horrible. Game film against these kids is going to be easy for Rick to break down, and Rick is going to throw smothering D against them the entire game. This will be the scariest game of the year.

    • Mark
      5:37 pm December 22, 2013 Permalink

      Man, you are the most negative CATS fan I have ever had to listen too rant. Cal says a lot of things. Do you think he would be doing any of them a favor if he said, you are the greatest I have ever seen and you don’t even need to work at it your so good and talented. Pulson is a senior and has put good quality minutes on the floor. Nothing wrong with him at all. Good luck man. I am glad you are not the coach.

  19. UKbba6
    12:14 am December 23, 2013 Permalink

    God ksr writers get more and more generic . How do you put this game on the list when it hasnt even happened? Where is the game where UK was down 16 at halftime, rondo pokes pillascios eyes, and won on the PSparks Fts??? Krs do you even watch kentucky basketball sometimes