Louisville vs. Duke: Kentucky Fans' Worst Nightmare?
This column appears courtesy of KY Forward and is written by Wesley Eversole. It was filed before Friday night's games in which both Louisville and Duke won their respective match-ups.
On Friday, Louisville will take on Oregon and Duke will face Michigan State in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals in Indianapolis. If both Louisville and Duke win, setting up a regional final match on Sunday, UK fans could face a difficult decision as to which team to root for.
It is well known that neither school is liked by UK fans for various reasons (Louisville because they’re the in-state rival, Duke because of all the media hype they seem to get every year). If both schools were to win and advance to the Elite Eight, UK fans could face the possibility of having to root for a school they do not like. The question is, which school, if any, would Kentucky fans rather root for?
Pros of Louisville winning: Gives our state four Final Four teams in the last three years (Kentucky in 2011 and 2012; Louisville in 2012 and 2013), would help bring further legitimacy to the UK/UofL rivalry, would help make next season’s UK/UofL game a must see event (if it was not one already) by matching a Final Four team against what may be the preseason No. 1 team.
Cons of Louisville winning: UK fans would have to hear Louisville fans talk about how they not only beat Kentucky but also made the Final Four while the Wildcats lost in the first round of the NIT to Robert Morris, Rick Pitinomight replace John Calipari as the best coach in the state (for this season, anyway), in-state recruits might be persuaded to go to Louisville instead of UK if the Cardinals were to advance to the Final Four.
Pros of Duke winning: Duke win would mean the Cardinals would have 27 consecutive years without a national championship. The Blue Devils have won four since then, so winning a fifth one probably would not be as big a deal as Louisville winning their third.
Cons of Duke winning: Having to put up with Louisville fans would probably be bad enough, but at least that talk seems to be limited to internet message boards and talk shows. If Duke were to win, UK fans would have to listen to the media brag about them all week long leading up to the Final Four and possibly the national championship game if the Blue Devils were to advance that far. Duke already receives enough media hype, and while a lot of it is warranted (They have won four national championships and are one of just four teams with at least 2,000 wins), I doubt UK fans would really enjoy listening to an entire week of Duke hype from ESPN and other media outlets.
Of course, there is always the possibility that one or both teams could lose, which would make things easier for UK fans. If Oregon were to upset Louisville, Wildcat fans could always pull for the Ducks against Duke. If Michigan State were to upset Duke, UK fans could root for Tom Izzo’s Spartans against Louisville. Unlike Pitino or Mike Krzyzewski, Izzo appears to be liked by UK fans, so they would probably not a have problem cheering for him against Louisville.
Regardless of whether both Louisville and Duke win on Friday, only one team wins, or neither team wins, this has already been an interesting NCAA Tournament with teams like Wichita State, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast making the Sweet 16. Any of these sixteen teams could end up winning the national championship. UK fans may just be hoping it’s someone other than Louisville or Duke.
Wesley Eversole is a 2011 graduate of the University of Louisville’s sport administration program. He enjoys a lifelong love of sports, especially UK basketball and football. You can read more about Eversole’s pursuit of his life goals while living with Asperger’s Syndrome here.
Photo: Kentucky takes on Louisville/KY Forward file photo by Mark Baxley