Rupp Arena is called the home of “the greatest tradition in the history of college basketball,” and obviously Kentucky Wildcats fans are some of the most numerous and most passionate of any NCAA team. Today I was thinking about some of the things that make the ‘Cats cool, and things that make the team what it is and beloved by so many across the state. I thought of six, but fill the comments below with more because I know there’s plenty more of ‘em!
1. The ‘Cats have won 8 national titles since the NCAA Tournament began in 1939, more than any other program except UCLA, and like the Yankees haven’t gone through extremely long droughts but have stayed at the top consistently
2. Having no pro teams in any sport, the Kentucky Wildcats in every sport are the team the majority of the state collectively cheers on (outside of the Louisville area at least)
3. Adolph Rupp dominated basketball for decades with the ‘Cats, raising an entire generation of Kentuckians on Final Fours and national titles, then was succeeded by Joe B. Hall who continued to do the same for another generation, and so on. Many Kentucky fans today have parents who grew up Kentucky fans after their parents, all the way back to before World War II. For many, being a UK fan is a family tradition.
4. Rupp Arena is one of the crown jewels of Lexington, hosting big-name concerts and being one of the few basketball arenas in the country to seat 20,000+. While not right on campus like some other schools’ arenas, it’s an arena that attracts fans from far and wide as well as many from the visiting teams to eat soft-serve ice cream and get a full-blown college hoops experience.
5. The SEC is one of the best conferences in the country and the ‘Cats have been battling it out on the hardwood with the Gators, Vols, Tide, and all the rest since the 1930s, creating rivalries and legendary games over the years as they use dominance down South to win big in March.
6. The Kentucky-Duke and Kentucky-Louisville beefs the fanbases have for each other is hotter than a barn soaked in lit gasoline, and the sheer determination they have for one-upping the other has always been a part of the history. UK would definitely not be the same today without the 1992 and 1998 Duke games.
A tradition like no other, just like the Masters that always sucks us in after the hoops disappear in April. What other things make Kentucky basketball cool? Put your thoughts in the comments below!