If you were one of the 24,000 at Rupp Arena Saturday or one of the hundreds of thousands who watched the UK-UNC game on television, you saw a March-style game in early December. Top-ranked UK’s 73-72 win over the Tarheels will go down as one of the top-ranked wins in the young John Calipari era. Yet, if it’s up to Cal (unless he’s just trying to stir the pot. Never!), a game like that one could be replaced with yet another non-conference matchup with the Marists and Radfords of the world.
Calipari riled up Big Blue Nation by posting a poll on his website asking fans if UK chose to cancel one of the traditional series, would they choose Indiana, UNC or Louisville? The majority of fans voted to cancel the annual IU matchup.
Why ask that? Well, Calipari believes if the SEC forces them to play 18 (rather than 16) conference games when Texas A&M and Missouri joins the league, then maybe a lighter schedule is in order before conference play begins.
If that happens, you’ll see a longer parade of patsies walking into Rupp Arena and leaving with a big loss and a bigger paycheck. But you won’t see the type of hyped-up, tournament style atmosphere like we saw Saturday.
Calipari was upset last year when UK received a four-seed in the NCAA Tournament but had an RPI of seven. His logic: why play games against tough teams in December if it’s not going to help your standing in March? Using the same logic, LOSING to those teams shouldn’t affect that standing either. But this isn’t Debate Club.
UNC head coach Roy Williams said he and Calipari should sit down and talk about the series before anyone decides to cancel it. Williams and Calipari, at least on the surface, have a good relationship.
“I don’t like playing people that I like,” claimed Calipari after the game. Maybe that bodes well for keeping the UofL series going. Not much love lost between Calipari and Cards head coach Rick Pitino.
Maybe the Indiana series is heading for cancellation, but look at this year’s setup. UK is undefeated heading into Bloomington Saturday to take on an undefeated Hoosiers squad.
Calipari says his job is to keep the program “where it is” and not schedule games just to entertain the fans. Look, December wins don’t always account for a lot but do you think his young bunch of Wildcats will get more from getting a come-from-behind win over UNC and possibly going on the road and handing Indiana it’s first loss of the season or beating the Orlando College Dust Mops and the UT-Washburn Fighting Baloney Strings by 50 at Rupp Arena?
Photo: Courtesy University of Kentucky Athletics
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