Since Nick Saban joined the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007, he’s only lost seven home games. The same (or better, considering the volume) can be said for Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari, as he’s 150-8 in Rupp Arena as the coach of the Wildcats.
Kentucky’s clearly had top-tier talent and played in what was a weaker SEC Conference for a few years, but Calipari has dominated his opponents through the thick and thin as Kentucky’s coach, and Rupp Arena has played a major role in that.
Forgetting last season’s dip in attendance, Rupp Arena plays to a constant sell-out for almost every single game despite the opponent. Kentucky fans are loud, passionate and are on their feet even in the nose bleeds where Cal’s troops look like ants.
Let’s not forget Big Blue Madness either, where people camp outside for days just to get tickets to see a pep rally and their team play a scrimmage.
Not having a professional team in Lexington certainly boosts the fandom for the Wildcats, but Calipari’s success on the hardwood drives the obsession even more.
As a journalist, even walking into Rupp Arena gets the juices flowing. For other teams, the intimidation of playing one of the best teams in college basketball on their home court where the fans are as passionate as anywhere has to be off the charts.
In fact, while Calipari respectfully has the highest-winning percentage in Kentucky basketball history, Rupp Arena has always been a strong home court.
Per 247Sports, since Adolph Rupp’s departure, there hasn’t been a coach who won less than 70% of his games. A troubled Billy Gillispie managed to post a 27-10 record, proving that even with sub-par talent Rupp Arena gave the Cats an edge at home.
Next was Eddie Sutton coming in next at a much improved 53-9 and then Tubby Smith at 119-19. The great Joe B. Hall went 122-14 and Rick Pitino 107-7.
However, while Pitino is close, he didn’t produce the 150-8 record that Calipari is still improving goign into this season.
With the help of the Rupp Arena crowd, along with a string full of talent, Kentucky is poised to dominate their home schedule once again.