Underdog Kentucky Wildcats will rely on John Calipari's mastery of rivals


Dec 15, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari smiles in the first half of the game against the Lipscomb Bisons at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

We know the numbers by now. Since he has been at Kentucky, John Calipari has gone 4-0 versus Louisville. Rick Pitino has not beaten a Kentucky coach NOT named Billy Gillispie since 2003. And while everyone is saying that these streaks will end on Saturday, you can not count John Calipari out due to one reason. The man is darn good at beating his rivals.  Mark Story took at look at how Calipari has done in his big rivalry game and here is what he found:

  • vs Louisville  4-0
  • vs Florida  7-1
  • vs Tennessee  6-1
  • vs Indiana  3-1
  • vs North Carolina  3-1

Story compares these numbers to similar ones of the Pitino era:

To put that in perspective, back when Pitino was overseeing a modern golden age in UK basketball in the 1990s, even he didn’t fare so well against the teams Wildcats fans hated most. His record at UK against the Cats’ top five rivals (same teams, but substituting Arkansas of the 1990s for Florida of the 2000s) was 31-15.

Dec 22, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Ryan Harrow (12) dribbles the ball against the Marshall Thundering Herd in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Marshall 82-54. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

IF Kentucky is to upset Louisville on Saturday, you can bet that Ryan Harrow will be a key factor. Harrow is coming off his best game of the season, but some UK fans are still anxious due to the fact it has taken a long time for Harrow to have that game. Louisville is probably the best team at creating turnovers but John Clay tells us that Ryan Harrow takes good care of the ball. Here is Clay’s finding in chart form:

Mar 31, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari (right) greets Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino before the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA men

So much has been written about the Kentucky/Louisville series and it is rare to find an “out of stater” with a true appreciation for the series. ESPN’s Dana O’Neil puts the finger on the pulse of the rivalry in a must read “The Commonwealth’s Great Divide”.

Aside from maybe Alabama and Auburn football, it is hard to find such yearlong enmity breeding and cultivating within the state borders like Kentucky. It is like a border-to-border Petri dish of festering vitriol and disdain.

And nowhere does the sickness exist as feverishly as it does in Louisville.

This is where the two fan bases cross-pollinate, if you will, more than anywhere else. You will find Kentucky fans in a place like Murray, a good five-hour drive from Lexington, and sitting boldly in the bar at the Cardinal Hall of Fame Restaurant, just a few blocks from the UL campus. But you will be hard-pressed to find Cardinals fans much beyond the Louisville borders.

“You’re the county nut if you’re a Louisville fan out in the state somewhere,” longtime Louisville radio personality Terry Meiners said.




We mall know that Kentucky fans far outnumber the Louisville fans in the Bluegrass, even in the city of Louisville, but it is always fun to see this proven … even by “science”. There was a study done on the hashtags on Twitter between Kentucky and Louisville fans. The study found that the use of the #BBN hashtag four outnumbered the #L1C4 tag and provides a map and some analysis.


Dec 15, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Archie Goodwin (10), forward Alex Poythress (22), forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) and guard Ryan Harrow (12) walk out of a time out during the game against the Lipscomb Bisons in the first half at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

If you have been reading the national pundits, all you have probably seen is that Kentucky has no chance. Well, Larry Vaught found that not all ratings are so biased to the Cardinals. The College Basketball Power Index has Kentucky ranked at #10 and the Cardinals at #6.  Regardless of what the pundits say, the game will be played on the court and not on the computers and expect a closer game than predicted.  We have a ton of UK/UL stuff on the site today, including our podcast with Cameron Mills and my Know Your Enemy coming up later.


Tags: Basketball Articles Kentucky Wildcats Louisville Cardinals

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