Kentucky Vs. Louisville: Do Statistics Make Duke/UNC Better?

Mack Perkins makes the argument today on Nation of Blue that the Kentucky/Louisville rivalry is inferior to several others, including Indiana/Purdue and Duke/UNC. Of course, the answer to the question of who has the better rivalry, like so many questions in sports, is largely subjective.  Here is Mack's argument:

The first to be eliminated sadly will be the UK Louisville rivalry. While this heated battle is physically intense and nerve racking for all those watching and playing, statistically it doesn’t stack up against the rest. The 2 teams have only played each other 42 times. This is attributed to playing only once a year (out of conference foes) and because the rivalry died during the years 1922-1948 and 1960-1983. While we all enjoy a Demarcus Cousins non intentional elbow to the face and a good ol’ fashioned chicken bucket beatdown (and other numerous great memories), nationally and historically it’s probably not "the greatest".

As you can see, Mack is essentially answering the question statistically, and to be more precise, is relying most on the number of times the teams have played each other.  As you might suppose, I am going to disagree, but let's be clear at the outset that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Mack's argument.

My dissent will largely be based on two factors:  Fan intensity and, well, the inverse of Mack's position.  As I said earlier, this is largely a subjective argument, but the rivalry between Kentucky and Louisville is one of the most bitter in sport, and I would contend that in college sports, there are only a very few rivalries that even come close:  Auburn/Alabama, Michigan/Ohio State and Texas/Oklahoma.  Of these, to me, the most bitter is Auburn/Alabama for the same reason as UK/Louisville -- they are in-state foes, and being in-state matters.

Part of the reason these rivalries are so acrimonious is that it often comes down to internecine warfare among families and neighbors. Of course, that is also true of Duke/UNC and Indiana/Purdue, but the difference is that both these rivalries play each other multiple times per year, one of the reasons Mack finds them better.  However, much like a football rivalry, Kentucky and Louisville have exactly one game in each sport to get it right, and if they come up on the short end, they must suffer the fans of the opposing team's schadenfreude for an entire year.  The other two rivalries so highly thought of by Perkins only have to wait a few games.  Only in the rare instance of a sweep is truly similar suffering among the others.

So my position is that contra Perkins, it is the relative lack of games that makes the rivalry better, more intense and therefore "better" by my definition of the term.  To me, the Auburn/Alabama rivalry is truly the gold standard.  Thankfully, UK and Louisville fans are not so overtaken by mutual loathing that they destroy each other's objects of reverence, but the rivalry here in the Commonwealth is only slightly less intense.

So what say you, Big Blue Nation?  When you think of what makes a better rivalry, which argument seems more persuasive to you?

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