The bitter rivalry between the University of Louisville and Kentucky has been elevated several notches because of UofL’s remarkable success and UK’s abysmal failure in basketball. Karma depends on where one’s loyalty stands.
Louisville performed as expected, winding up as the No. 2 team in the Associated Press poll while being awarded the No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky, predicted as high as No. 3 before the season began, failed to win the SEC Conference, was defeated in the first games of the conference tournament and the National Invitation Tournament, and was not among the nation’s top 25 as the season ended.
As for the trip to Lexington, get in, get out, with as little interaction between games with the natives as possible.
UofL fans couldn’t be happier about the turn of events. UK fans couldn’t be more angry or deflated. In the minds of the intensely-loyal fan bases, the success or failure of the other program is almost equally important as their own. Sad but true, bringing out the worst in individuals, even between those who consider themselves friends of people who follow the other program.
Integral to the jubilation of UK fans a year ago was that their journey to an eighth national championship began in Louisville with two first-round victories at the KFC Yum! Center. The ability to pack UofL’s home court making it much more satisfying for blue-clad fans. They followed that up by beating UofL in the Final Four.
In one of those amazing twists of fate, Rick Pitino’s team will begin its quest for a third national championship Thursday at Rupp Arena. UofL fans don’t relish the idea of playing in Lexington, recognizing the hostility that exists toward fans of the Louisville school. Most would rather not be there. A year ago, remember, UK students were out in the streets, setting cars on fire after defeating UofL two days before the national championship game.
Lexington is a short drive so many dedicated so concerned Cards’ fans will take their chances. Some won’t go because the games are there. For all of those who do, this will be a taking-care-of-business trip, not your typical road game. There won’t be any welcoming committees or red carpets in Lexington because UofL fans won’t be there long, spending as little money as possible.
Enjoy the plot lines and trust that the unfolding script has the ultimate ending, a happy ending that further crushes UK fans and pushes the rivalry to even higher levels. As for the trip to Lexington, get in, get out, with as little interaction between games with the natives as possible.