On Dec. 29, No. 4 Louisville (11-1) and Kentucky (8-3) will battle each other for the 45th time on the hardwood. The rivalry started when the two first met in 1913.
UofL and UK played only 12 times between 1913 and 1959. They wouldn’t play again until the 1983 NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight. Louisville went on to win the memorable game in Nashville, TN 80-68 to advance to the Final Four. Since, the Cardinals and Wildcats have played every year since.
In the 32 modern era meetings, there have only been 4 games where neither team was ranked inside the AP Poll Top 25. In 14 meetings, both teams entered the Battle for the Bluegrass ranked. A total of 4 instances, the Cards and Cats were both ranked inside the Top 10. Most recently in 2011, No. 3 UK beat No. 4 UofL 69-62.
UK is currently on a 4-game winning streak against UofL, which includes UK’s 69-61 Final Four victory last season in New Orleans. UK went on to win the National Championship. Since 1983, the longest winning streak has been 4 games which was done one other time by UK from 1990-1993. UofL has only lost twice when ranked higher than UK (2001 and 2005).
This year’s battle will be held at the KFC Yum! Center for just the second time in the arena’s history. The first meeting inside the Louisville downtown facility was in 2010 when No. 11 Kentucky defeated No. 22 Louisville 78-63. That game produced the arena attendance record, which still stands, at 22,803.
The other thing that makes this rivalry interesting is the so called “feud” between UofL head coach Rick Pitino and UK head coach John Calipari. It is safe to say, the two didn’t exchange Christmas cards this holiday season. Back in March before the Final Four game, the two took jabs at each other during their press conferences. Currently, Calipari holds a 9-8 all-time record against Pitino (we’ll let Calipari keep his vacated wins this time). Since Calipari has been at UK, he holds a 4-0 edge over Pitino and the Cardinals.
Bragging rights are on the line in this late December match-up; that will once again feel like March. Tip-off is at 4:00 pm EST and will be televised nationally on CBS.