Last Monday I posted an article (you can read it here) referring to the topic of conversation since the brackets went out and the NCAA March Madness games have began: that Louisville and Kentucky would meet in the Sweet 16 for the spot in the Elite 8 for the Midwest Regional final.
It happened. Louisville beat No. 5 ranked Saint Louis 66-51 and Kentucky beat No. 1 Wichita State in a nail biting game that ended in Kentucky winning 78-76 against the Shockers. The Cardinals and Wildcats will meet on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the first round of the Midwest Regional at 9:45 p.m.
The Cards lost only 5 games this season, whereas the Wildcats had 10. Does this mean the Cards have the upper hand? I hope so. But the reality of the rivalry is that Louisville has lost five of the last six games against Kentucky since 2010. The Cards will have to perform to the potential we know they are capable of and a fantastic performance from Cardinal leaders Russ Smith, Montrezl Harrell, and Luke Hancock will be essential to this win.
Smith averages 3 more points than Kentucky’s Randle and averages more assists than Kentucky's Harrison. Harrell, at 6 foot 8 and averaging nearly 8.5 rebounds, will have to step up in terms of rebounding, because 6’9 Randle averages nearly 11.
What does this game mean for the state of Kentucky? EVERYTHING. Houses will be divided, friends will be lost, and red and blue will be EVERYWHERE. Nearly every Louisvillian will be watching the game at home, at local restaurants, or wherever they can find a TV come Friday night. I don't think Downtown Indianapolis is ready for The Bluegrass takeover. Check out the Indianapolis Star's coverage here.
Today Mayor Fischer declared Friday “Cardinal Red Day” in Louisville. You can read more about it here.
Follow Louisville.com on Twitter @louisvillecom for live updates from the game at Lucas Oil Stadium both Friday night and Sunday, where the winner of Friday's game will play the winner of No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 11 Tennessee. Will there be a rematch of the 2013 Championship game that the Cardinal's reigned over the Wolverines 82-76? I sure hope so.
Don't forget to wear your red this Friday and
Photo courtesy of NBC Sports.