If you pay attention at all to my posts, you would probably gather that I personally despise Kentucky. They *are* our arch rivals. This is an indisputable fact.
The historic series dates back to December 18, 1924 (IU won that first match up by a final score of 20 to 18) and is widely regarded as the most prestigious rivalry existing between non-conference foes. Since that initial meeting, the teams have squared off a total of 56 times with 4 meetings in postseason tournaments. Indiana holds the series record of 6 straight victories (the very first 6) but Kentucky has fallen short of matching that mark multiple times with a total of three 5 win streaks during the series.
In thirty six of the 56 meetings, at least one of the two teams were ranked in the AP Top 10. In eight of those 36 meetings, both teams were ranked in the top 10 at the time of the contest. In a full 20% of the match ups (11 of the 56) one of the two teams have been ranked #1 in the land (Indiana x 3: Kentucky x 8)
The two teams combined have taken 18% of the total national championships available, although Kentucky's first three (1948, 1949, 1951) were won under dubious circumstances. I'll come back to that in my closing.
Much to the chagrin of this Indiana fan, Kentucky leads the all-time series 32-24, and there are some bastard Wildcat fans that use the Wildcats modern success in the series (Indiana won 12 of the first 18 and won 5 of 7 contests between 1984 and 1990, but Kentucky has won 17 of the last 22 match ups) to nonchalantly discard Indiana in "not really our rival as the ultimate snub to a rival" statements of late. How many Kentucky fans came out of the woodwork to downplay their defeat in Assembly Hall last December by trotting out the "not really a rivalry" tripe only to turn around after the Sweet Sixteen meeting to lay the rivalry smack talk on as thick as can be? It has taken a 17 of 22 record for Kentucky to turn things in their favor. Prior to the 1994 match up and the lead into Bob Knight's waning years in Bloomington, the series was owned by Indiana 19 - 15. Congratulations, Kentucky: it only took a full two decades of Indiana being down for you to make up the deficit and give the Hoosiers something to target.
If only taking a slice of time after the 1993 victory by the Hoosiers over top-ranked Kentucky that earned Damon Bailey a Sports Illustrated cover (still got yours?), one might very much assume that Kentucky has had a decided upper hand; however, when taken in its entirety, it is a true back and forth affair that has been a regular collision between two of the most storied programs in history. We are all aware of the public politics that Calipari used to "protect" this year's Kentucky squad that resulted in at least the temporary cessation of regular season meetings, but all this talk after Nerlens Noel went down as to whether Kentucky will be invited to the tournament has me wondering: while I would really, really enjoy seeing Kentucky miss the tournament altogether I would much rather see them come in as one of the "Last Four In" as a #8 or #9 seed in the Midwest Region. How about you?
Back to those first three titles "won" by Kentucky: they should have been vacated when the NCAA invented the concept of the Death Penalty to nullify Kentucky's entire 1952 season in the fallout from the infamous 1952 Manhattan point shaving scandal. They used 3 known cheaters who admitted in sworn affidavits to point shaving during both the 1948 and 1949 seasons,their apprentice was on the 1951 squad and the Kentucky "faithful" railroaded Bill Spivey when he was implicated and started to talk out about how corrupt the squad and coaching staff really were and how many Wildcat players were actually on the take. At the conclusion of the initial investigation, national titles were novelties to collegiate sports programs that, through the passing of time, have come to mean something far more. That's largely why the titles were not vacated; removing some token of a prior season did nothing at the time to impact the school negatively. Invalidating their ability to play NCAA member schools for the entirety of the 1952 season impacted them monetarily. Their phony titles should have gone the way of their 1952 season: "didn't happen."
Kentucky likes to enumerate their banners as some showing of tradition when their true tradition is "Cheat at all Costs" and "Buy the Investigators to Minimize the Damage."
#vacate48 #vacate49 #vacate51