NCAA News Wire

Bluegrass state rivals seek Elite status

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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Louisville and Kentucky are not friendly rivals, but players downplayed that factor entering Friday’s Midwest Regional semifinal matchup, a rematch of Kentucky’s victory in December. Coach John Calipari is 5-1 against Cardinals coach Rick Pitino since joining the Wildcats.

“If you aren’t from Kentucky, you don’t understand it,” Kentucky sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein said. “It’s that simple. I have been here two years and I still don’t understand the rivalry. It’s just fun.

“If you ask a UK fan about the rivalry and then ask a Louisville fan about the rivalry, they say the same kind of trash talk about each other, but just different. It’s the same thing, just on a different side of it.”

Kentucky forward Alex Poythress said this is “a whole different team” and — a better one — than the Wildcats squad that beat then-sixth-ranked Louisville 73-66 on Dec. 28.

Louisville All-American guard Russ Smith, the most outstanding player in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, said the Cardinals are playing smarter. He sees similar progress from freshman-laden Kentucky.

“They’ve improved on their decision-making, getting into the lane,” Smith said. “They obviously have a dribble-drive offense, and that’s sometimes hard to emulate. And they’ve done a great job getting down the offense. So their decision-making and their intelligence within their system has made strides. And that’s pretty impressive.”

Pitino said he would like media and fans to follow suit, stating for a third time in as many weeks that his relationship with Calipari is not contentious, as it often has been presented.

“I don’t care about perception because perception is not reality. We’re friends,” Pitino said. “We respect each other’s programs very much and we’re friends in this business. And I certainly have great respect for what they’re accomplishing right now.”

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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