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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kentucky vs. Louisville: A Dream Rivalry YEP!

Kentucky vs. Louisville: A dream rivalry

In the chronicles of rivalries, some stand out more than others.

Coke and Pepsi.

The Hatfields and the McCoys.

Edison and Tesla.

The Beatles and the Stones.

Steinem and Schlafly.

Kennedy and Nixon.

Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.

Connery and Moore and Brosnan and Craig.

Grant and Lee.

Athens and Sparta.

And in sports, the arena with perhaps the most spirited rivalries, who can forget Bird and Johnson, Ali and Frazier, Kerrigan and Harding, Seabiscuit and War Admiral, Palmer and Nicklaus, King and Riggs and Borg and McEnroe?

This week, another rivalry for the ages, a homegrown epic, goes full-tilt in the Bluegrass State and on the national stage:

UK and U of L.

The University of Kentucky Wildcats and the University of Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball teams go head to head, toe to toe, in a March Madness, Final Four match-up, the Blue and Red likes of which haven’t been seen since … well, ever, never, whatever.

As the sports writers are pointing out, in the words of this particular nugget from Yahoo!: “Kentucky and Louisville have met 43 times since 1913 and every year since 1983, but the Bluegrass State rivals have never faced each other in a Final Four. In fact, they’ve only met four times in the NCAA tournament, splitting four meetings with Louisville winning the most famous one — the 1983 ‘Dream Game’ in the Elite Eight that essentially relaunched the rivalry.”

To get to this red-hot moment in the UK/U of L rivalry — they meet Saturday in New Orleans; the winner goes to the NCAA finals against either Kansas or Ohio State — Kentucky had to keep on keeping on with its No. 1-caliber performances. U of L had to scrap and claw its way back after its tumble from top rankings earlier in the season. Very different paths to the same destination close to the summit of their sport, as the Wildcats clinched their spot in the Final Four after schooling the Baylor Bears in a blowout and the Cards prevailed in a nail-biter over the Florida Gators.

Frankly, what’s going to happen on the court Saturday is the least of our worries. The teams have practices, drills, coaches, doctors and trainers to keep their minds occupied, their eyes on the ball and their fettles fine.

We’re wondering if the rest of Kentucky can hold it together before, during and after the Son of Dream Game because the rivalry of Cats and Cards partisans deserves to be on the all-time list, too.

If states could wag and wiggle, Kentucky would be all over the map right about now. Talk about fan-demonium.

As we count down to game day, and celebrate the excellence of effort that put both teams in the Final Four, let us all remember what Sir Charles Barkley, basketball sage, said about keeping the rivalry on the court, and only during the game, where and when it belongs:

“I don't hate anyone, at least not for more than 48 minutes, barring overtime.”



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