The border state rivalry between the Indiana Hoosiers and Kentucky Wildcats, two universities rich in tradition, has been a staple of the NCAA men’s college basketball regular season for decades. However, Indiana officials announced on Thursday, May 3, 2012 that contract negotiations between the two universities had come to a fork in the road leaving the annual matchup, which dates back to 1969, in jeopardy.
The crossroads between the two programs differ on where to play games. Kentucky prefers to play in larger arenas versus campus sites. University of Kentucky believes revenue from playing in larger off-campus arenas is a great benefit but Indiana athletic director Fred Glass prefers to keep the contest away from neutral sites and back to the on campus arenas of Rupp Arena in Lexington and Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Hoosiers athletic director Fred Glass issued the following statement last week “In the final analysis, we want our student-athletes, our overall student body and our season-ticket holders to enjoy this series at Assembly Hall.”
Indiana argues that larger arenas and neutral sites don’t provide the same college student atmosphere as on campus arenas. Those who analyze sports teams see a “Blue Line” being drawn by Kentucky. The Wildcats won the 2012 NCAA National Championship and finished the season 28-1 with their one loss coming against Indiana at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Kentucky lost on a last second buzzer beater by Christian Watford and the Hoosier faithful stormed the court. Many believe that memorable loss has been replayed in the minds of John Calipari and the Kentucky athletic department leading to Kentucky’s change of plans to play in a neutral arena versus the home and home format.
Indiana and Kentucky rivalry has become a fabric of NCAA Basketball mdash; before the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen Round ESPN commentator Dick Vitale said of the rivalry, “Don’t you get excited in the world of basketball thinking about Kentucky and Indiana playing? Two goliaths, two elite programs.”
The programs have met 56 times in 11 of those meetings featured Indiana or Kentucky ranked #1. Kentucky has won 8 National Championships appearing in 15 Final Fours and Indiana the Hoosiers have won 5 National Championships appearing in 8 Final Fours. The two programs have combined for 13 NCAA National Championships over the last 72 years.
Kentucky coach John Calipari has also discussed ending annual key rivalries against Louisville and North Carolina. These are the games Wildcats alumni, students and fans look forward to every year. While losing the 2012-2013 rivalry games between Indiana and Kentucky have historical effects, the economic impact is slight and both teams are currently expected to be ranked in the top five for the 2012-2013 NCAA basketball season.