Faced with unprecedented pregame hype for Kentucky and Louisville’s first matchup in the Final Four, UK rallied early and hung on late to defeat Cardinals 69-61 Saturday and advance to its 11th championship. With their archrival out of the way, the Cats will play Kansas or Ohio State on Monday for its eight national championship.
The players that would combine to form John Calipari’s third straight top-ranked recruiting class all knew one another from the AAU and high school all-star circuits, but the event that annually features the nation’s top seniors served as a transformative moment.
This season, UK-U of L occupies center stage for a second week, this time in the crucible that is the Final Four. However, for the purposes of this piece, I’m going to try to make like John Calipari and focus on Kentucky-Louisville as a basketball game and a basketball game alone.
Think it’s crazy when John Calipari says the rivalry between the actual Kentucky-Louisville players isn’t as fierce as people think? Watch this video from last year’s McDonald’s All-American Game.
At last, with Lamar and a handful of December foes now finally in the rearview mirror, Kentucky-Louisville is here.
After watching his team get outrebounded, “outhustled” and “outworked” in the second half of doubleheader nightcap, a hot and irritated John Calipari said this letdown loss simply came down to toughness. One team (Baylor) had it. The other (Kentucky) didn’t.