Had an interesting conversation with a UK friend this weekend about the UL game in a few weeks and UK’s recent domination of the Cards. And let’s be honest, it is shaping up to be a pretty competitive game this year. Certainly more competitive than most thought before the year. And if we want to be honest, even though we have won 7 of 8 meetings since Calipari arrived, most of the games have been competitive. Now, that brings us back to the conversation I was having. We talked about the nightmare scenario if UL was to win at Rupp today after as much confidence as we had as a fanbase before the year began. But, my friend brought up something that I feel like many UK fans bring up when talking about the rivalry:
“We’ll always have the Final Four win”
I found this to be an interesting comment, since that was 4 seasons ago now, but I hear that often. Many UK fans (including myself) consider that win the biggest of the Calipari era, even bigger than the title game over Kansas. But should it continue to be a rallying cry over Louisville, even if they beat us this year?
Which brings me to the question I have for you, the reader? Because my friend still focuses on that 2012 win and everything it stood for, I wonder if this scenario came up which of these options you would choose:
-LOSE IN THE ELITE 8 TO A GENERIC TEAM (i.e. Syracuse) OR LOSE IN THE FINAL FOUR TO LOUISVILLE?
Ask Cards fans. Despite the fact they made a surprise run in 2012 to the Final Four, to then be eliminated by Kentucky had to almost make it not worth it. As my friend proves, he still goes back to that win as a key source of ridicule against UL fans. For a fanbase like ours, losing in the Final 4 to Louisville would just be a nuclear meltdown. It would be 1992-Duke levels of despair. So would losing a round earlier to a team that isn’t a rival just be better for all involved. Our fanbase wouldn’t have to go through the turmoil of losing to UL and their fanbase wouldn’t have that to hold over us.
Yes, the Final Four is the ultimate goal each and every season. But at what expense? I’m not sure an eternity of bashing from the opposing side is worth adding to the rafters another Final Four banner.