With only 80 miles separating Louisville and Lexington the close proximity makes this rivalry even that much more personal, especially for those that live inside or near Jefferson County.
It’s red or blue and pretty much no in between for most fans. This fierce rivalry even puts a divided in many families. All eyes are glued to the television when these two teams play their annual game.
It’s not uncommon for fan bases and college basketball analyst to rank various rivalries within college sports. On Sunday, Brad Crawford from 247 Sports published his list of the top 10 rivalries at the collegiate level. The interesting thing about Crawford’s list is that is encompasses both football and basketball.
Kentucky vs. Louisville basketball came in at #5. Crawford made mention of not only the intense yearly battles that these two teams have, but also the rich history in the postseason, which includes the 2012 Final Four matchup. Then there is the obvious element of Rick Pitino coaching at Kentucky from 1989-1997 before accepting the head coaching job at Louisville in 2001. After that, the rivalry became even more hate-filled.
To state the obvious, this hasn’t been a very evenly matched rivalry since John Calipari took over as Kentucky’s head coach in 2009. Kentucky has dominated the series during that period along with the Cats holding the all-time over the Cards by a margin of 37-16. Kentucky bested Louisville in overtime this season at Rupp Arena.
As far as the the four rivalries that were ranked ahead of Louisville - Kentucky, it was a list of the usual names. I don’t have much beef with the three college football rivalries that made the top five. Army/Navy, Auburn/Alabama, and Ohio State/Michigan all have their own element of prestige.
But the top spot going to Duke - North Carolina basketball is an exhausting narrative that continues to dominate college sports. The most notable reason that this “best rivalry” is a fraud is because the two teams play a minimum of twice per season and often match up three times in a single year. For that reason and that reason alone, it should not be listed as the unanimous top rivalry.
How do you feel about Kentucky - Louisville being ranked 5th?