Basketball in Kentucky: It’s Happening Here
No title seemed more appropriate than the slogan that is used for the University of Louisville (It’s happening here). I mean the actual University, not just athletics. At least that is the last slogan I am aware of, not sure if it has changed again.
When I started this post, it was going to only be about the men’s and women’s basketball teams at UofL. I was going to tell you about their combined record of 27-2 overall and how the men are ranked 5th and the women are 6th, for an average of 5.5 between the two teams. But there was just something I couldn’t ignore. I wish I could, but I couldn’t.
There is one more team between men’s and women’s basketball that has an average ranking of 5.5 and their combined record is 26-2. You guessed it, it’s Kentucky. I tried very hard to just make this post about Louisville, but there are some things that can’t be ignored. One of those things is that this is the best state for college basketball because of BOTH Louisville and Kentucky. Sorry North Carolina, it’s not your state.
The Louisville men are 13-1 on the season and ranked 5th while the women are 14-1 and ranked 6th. So again, they have a combined record of 27-2 this season. The Kentucky men are 13-0 and ranked 1st and their women are 13-2 and ranked 10th. The two schools have a combined record of 53-4 overall this season.
I will never ever cheer for Kentucky to win a game, that just isn’t in me. But I realize that in order for this state to be the King of College Basketball, which it is, both programs need to be elite. And there is no question that they are. I am a Louisville fan more than I am just a fan of the state’s college basketball reputation. But as long as Louisville is good, then the whole state might as well be good also, because that makes it pretty cool for someone that loves basketball as much as I do.
It’s the same in college football. To me, the best state for college football is Alabama. Why? Not just because of one school. You have BOTH Alabama and Auburn that are two of the premier teams in the country. If only one of them were good, it would just be another state. Since they are both elite, and for the most part that is on a consistent basis, it is the best state in college football. You never have to cheer for your rival. But if you are going to brag about how good your state is in either sport, you kind of need your rival to be relevant.
Now to bring the focus back to UofL for just a minute. The men’s team seems to be a couple of steps away from having it figured out this season and really becoming a contender. If Chris Jones can stay in the point guard mode and get everyone else involved first, and the defense is better than it was at Wake Forest, the Cards can find themselves knocking on the door of another Final Four.
Jeff Walz and the women’s team seem to ALWAYS be a contender to get to the Final Four. This team may be a year or two away from winning the National Championship, but I would never count them out. The good thing about being in the ACC for them is they avoid UConn for the entire regular season. At a school where the focus is mainly on men’s basketball and football, Coach Walz has done an incredible job with the women’s basketball program at UofL.
Needless to say, we are pretty lucky to have such high quality basketball in our state. This was going to only be about UofL, but then a little state pride kicked in, and here we are. Now that it is out of my system, I will make sure I bash UK in the next post :-)
Good basketball doesn’t just stop at Louisville and Kentucky. It extends to the smaller schools in the state. Here is how some of them are doing this season…
Bellarmine: 10-1 and ranked 6th in Division II
Eastern Kentucky: 8-5 including a win at ACC school Miami
Western Kentucky: 8-5 with a win at SEC school Ole Miss
Murray State: 11-4 on the season
Pikeville: 13-1 overall in NAIA, ranked 4th in latest poll
Union: 10-4 and in first place in the Appalachian Athletic Conference