|Rick Pitino & John Calipari|
In 2012 the
won the men's national
championship. University of Kentucky
won the men's national
In 2013 the
their 3rd straight regional finals. UK
In 2013 the
the national finals finishing 2nd. Louisville
So here are the final preseason national polls for the upcoming season.
Are you kidding me, all four teams in the top seven in the nation?
With the top recruiting class in college history, the UK men look to make up their fall from grace last year when the defending national champion didn't even qualify for March Madness.
Now basketball at
and has been since Adolph Rupp started a run of 8 national championship in
1948. Only UCLA has more (11), and 10 of
them came over a 12 year span, 1964-1975. UCLA has won once since 1975 while UK has won 4
times since then. UK
Of course the irony is that both
UK and programs have
been built on the backs of east coast coaches. Rick Pitino of Louisville Louisville,
recognized as one of the deans of college coaching, was born in . John Calipari of New York City UK
was born in Moon Township Pennsylvania,
a suburb of . Pittsburgh
Pitino had the distinct, yet dubious honor of having built both
programs to national prominence and leading both teams to national championships,
something no other coach in the history of college basketball has achieved. Kentucky
Distinct because no one has won the NCAA crown with two different schools. Dubious because in
you are for UK or . The intra-state rivalry is among the most
intense in our nation. Louisville
When Pitino left
UK and then returned to about half the state considered
him enlightened while the other half considered him a traitor of the stature of
Judas. Only a kid from the streets of Louisville could overcome
such a swing from conquering hero to Shakespearean villain, and then fight his
way back to the top of the basketball pinnacle. New York
And look at the homes they have built for their respective teams. Massive stadiums, the modern day Roman Coliseums, welcome over 20,000 people to the games but it is more than that.
The same stadiums are filled for midnight openings of the practice season and pep rallies before games. Season tickets are so coveted they can be a major part of divorce property settlements.
I have a lot of relatives in
Kentucky and their loyalty is split between
UK and .
There are nieces, nephews and in laws that attended both schools. Kentuckians are a rather strange bunch but
one thing binds them together, the sacred nature of basketball and the hunger
to win. Louisville
This should be a most entertaining year in the land of thoroughbreds and
Here is what the AP has to say about
The Louisville and Kentucky women's teams are ranked in the top 10 and have national championship aspirations after making deep runs in last year's NCAA tournament.
The fifth-ranked Cardinals will start the season Saturday against Loyola-Chicago after their stunning march to the national championship game with an injury-depleted roster.
''It's just incredible, I think, for the
The women's teams won't have to wait long to settle bragging rights.
Before that in-state showdown, the Wildcats and Cardinals continue honing the chemistry that has both teams excited about their championship prospects.
The Cardinals (29-9, 11-5 Big East Conference) endured some frustrating losses along the way but hit stride in the NCAA tournament, highlighted by a monumental 82-81 upset of No. 1 and defending champion Baylor in the regional semifinal.
''I was happy for my teammates and the program,'' she said, ''but as a competitor you want to be out there and be in a big game like that. The fact that I knew I was coming back was my motivation to work hard.''
Though forward Sheronne Vails is out for the year following offseason knee surgery, Walz is eager to see if having his healthiest squad in some time can carry the Cardinals past favored UConn in the newly renamed American Athletic Conference and deeper in the NCAA tournament.
Besides senior guard and leading scorer Shoni Schimmel (14.2 points),
''We'll probably have the biggest game of rock-paper-scissors that you've ever seen, and the last five will be our starters,'' Walz joked about the process of choosing a lineup. ''It's a great problem to have.''
Mitchell can say the same thing about his own well-stocked
The returns of senior forward and leading scorer DeNesha Stallworth (12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds) and Samarie Walker (8.7 points, 8.1 rebounds) provide a strong post presence for the Wildcats (30-6, 13-3 Southeastern Conference), who fell to UConn in the regional final for the second straight year.
''It took some months, and we still look back and wonder why didn't get over that hump,'' Stallworth said. ''We've gotten better in our offensive execution and are looking good. We don't want to be in that spot (of missing the Final Four) for the fifth straight year.''
Kentucky's backcourt is its deepest area with senior Kastine Evans, juniors Bria Goss and Jennifer O'Neill and sophomore Thompson able to play anywhere in the three-guard alignment. The additions of McDonald's All-Americans Linnae Harper and Makayla Epps could pay off right away for a Wildcats team determined to go a step further - and possibly meeting a familiar foe along the way.