With rumors of the series between Kentucky and Indiana coming to an end for the foreseeable future and Tom Crean and John Calipari talking it over, one can only think that the series might be salvaged. Crean and Calipari have been noted to be close friends, not “acquaintances”, as Calipari and Pitino are. But if you sport the Blue and White, do you truly care if the series continues or not?
The Cats already have border rivals in Tennessee and imagined border rivalries between Cincinnati, Ohio State, and West Virginia. But you don’t see those schools begging to play UK annually. Indiana, on the contrary, needs UK more than we need them. Bob Knight is (has been) washed up and his days at IU have been numbered for well over a decade now.
In that decade since his departure, Kentucky has had more than enough wins against the Hoosiers to support the fact that Indiana only hurts UK’s schedule. Kentucky has a 10-3 record against the Hoosiers, with two of those losses coming in Bloomington since the teams ended play at neutral sites. And that is exactly to what the talks boil down to: neutral sites.
There had been talks for the past few seasons that the series would resume in neutral sites after the completion of the Yum! Center in Louisville, so the Cats would be able to play in Freedom Hall without problems. In Indianapolis, the Lucas Oil Stadium was also completed, giving both schools neutral sites in their respective states. But after Indiana’s rise to prominence and their victory over Kentucky, the home crowd in Bloomington is the only advantage they have left in their arsenal. Calipari’s recruiting is at a steady rate, compared to that of Crean’s, which has taken nearly four seasons to take off.
So the facts determine that the series helps Indiana more than Kentucky, as well as the ending of the series (presumably temporary) hurts Indiana more. Kentucky should schedule bigger names and more competition while they can, but with Indiana on the rise, would keeping them be a wiser decision? The ball is in your court, Tommy Boy.