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?