By Dalton Ray
The University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky are two powerhouse basketball programs whose rivalry is amongst the top in the nation when it comes to the hardwood. Passionate fan bases always looking for bragging rights fuel both schools in each anticipated match-up between the Cards and the Cats.
Even though both are known to be “basketball schools” that does not take away from the intensity when the schools are scheduled to play in any other sports. One of the last Louisville-Kentucky match ups of the 2013-2014 athletic year was at Jim Patterson Stadium between the two top-20 programs. While U of L hosted, number-19 Kentucky edged out a 4-2 win.
Fans of both schools came out in full force to enjoy America’s pastime and the setting provided a chance to take one last look on this year in the U of L v. UK rivalry.
One thing each member of Card Nation or Big Blue Nation can agree on is how big the rivalry is to the state and everyone in it.
Chris Pfeiffer, a Louisville fan and native says, “The UK, U of L game is big every year, each time they play everyone gets together and watches. It becomes a way of life here and you grow up with it, there isn’t much like it.”
While the football and basketball games get blown up every year the Cards and Cats play in most sports every year with hatred and yearly bragging rights on the line for each respected club.
This past Year of the Cardinal the university excelled in multiple sports and really had a strong hold on their rival 75 miles down I-64, going 7-4 in the different match-ups. The 2013-2014 year would prove to be a different story as the Cats bounced back with a 9-3 advantage this year.
To start off the year the Cardinals took a hard 2-0 loss in women’s soccer but rebounded with a 27-13 win in football. Gary Overstreet is a die-hard UK fan that supports more than just UK basketball.
“A lot of people see Kentucky as a one-sport school but I think we’re starting to turn the tide, the rivalry isn’t just for the players or coaches it’s really about the life-long fans who can’t wait to see their team play. Without any professional teams here everyone latches on to the schools and it really makes it better.”
Just after the football game ended the volleyball teams squared off. Kentucky won another close game against Louisville as they prevailed 3-2.
Next on the slate was the biggest game played between the schools as the men’s basketball teams faced off. The Wildcats put on a 73-66 victory in December’s match-up and then again in the Sweet 16 by a score of 74-69. The women’s basketball match-up went Kentucky’s way, 69-64. UK swept the entire basketball series for the athletic year.
“The biggest thing for me is getting over the hump for basketball and overcoming the ‘Little Brother’ stigma. We’re pretty equal or better in other sports. Cheering on my home city is also big,” Louisville fan Bobby Langston said.
After a rough start to the rivalry for the Cards they notched another win in the series after both men’s and women’s swimming teams downed the visiting Wildcats. Playing out on the diamond was the next step in the yearly meetings between the two schools. The Cats took both games against Louisville, winning 8-3 and 4-2 in baseball and took the first meeting in softball 5-0. The last meeting between the schools will be April 30th at Ulmer Stadium as Louisville will look to finish out the rivalry in the Card’s favor.
“Kentucky holds a great tradition, we as fans and those of us who went there understand that and hold our expectations higher than most. The thing about it is that Louisville fans do too and it adds heat to the fire,” Ashley Washington explained.
Many say the Battle of the Bluegrass State is unmatched across the country, the passion the fans have for each other’s school along with the hatred they have for the opposite school makes it a very good argument.
The major difference between the Louisville v. Kentucky rivalry is the lack of professional teams in the state. People who grow up here aren’t made into Louisville or Kentucky fans. They’re born into it.
The easiest way to spark up a conversation, or fight, in Kentucky is to bring up the state’s two biggest universities and ask who is better and why. The fan bases are what make the rivalry so great and their demand for greatness is what pushes these programs.