Friday March 18th, 2016

On Saturday, Kentucky and Indiana will meet as the No. 4 and 5 seeds in the East region of the NCAA tournament, renewing a storied rivalry. 

The last time the two schools met in the NCAA tournament was in 2012, when John Calipari’s Wildcats advanced past Indiana, 102–90, in the Sweet 16 en route to a national championship. This season, a trip to the Sweet 16 is on the line. The winner of the game will face either North Carolina and Providence.  

As the two teams go head–to–head for the first time this season, reintroduce yourself to the Indiana–Kentucky matchup. 

The rivalry

Despite the fact that they are in different conferences, the two schools met at least once every year from 1969 until 2012.

On Dec. 18, 1924, Indiana defeated Kentucky 20–18 in the first game in series history. There’s no obvious explanation as to why the schools became rivals. Perhaps it’s because the Wildcats and Hoosiers have been so successful: Between them, the programs have made 25 Final Fours and won 13 titles. Perhaps it’s the fact that the two schools are separated by just 170 miles. Both programs have also boasted a number of colorful personalities. But there is no denying that the game is always met with great excitement.

The Wildcats have won 32 of the 56 meetings between the schools.

National success

Kentucky’s eight championships rank second all-time, while Indiana’s five tie them for third. The Hoosiers haven’t won a title since earning two in the 1980's, while the Wildcats have won three times over the past two decades, beginning in 1996.

Bobby Knight

Knight is probably the biggest figure in the rivalry. In 1975, a 92–90 regional finals loss to Kentucky that ended a perfect season always left a salty taste in his mouth. 

He has made headlines in recent years with anti–Kentucky behavior, refusing to say their name on a telecast in 2012 and referring to current Wildcats coach John Calipari as just the “coach at Kentucky” in 2009. More recently, he referred to Kentucky merely as the “team from the SEC.”

John Calipari

Calipari put an end to the annual Indiana-Kentucky game in 2011, citing that the school had to do away with their annual game with either the Hoosiers, North Carolina Tar Heels or Louisville Cardinals. Indiana athletic director Fred Glass proposed two games at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and a home-and-home, but Calipari turned it down and ended the series.

NCAA tournament history

March 17, 1973 – Regional Finals: Indiana 72, Kentucky 65
March 22, 1975 – Regional Finals: Kentucky 92, Indiana 90
March 24, 1983 – Regional Semifinals: Kentuky 64, Indiana 59
March 23, 2012 – Regional Semifinals: Kentucky 102, Indiana 90

The Watford game-winner

Indiana upset Anthony Davis and Kentucky on a last-second shot from senior Christian Watford, handing the eventual national champions one of their two losses on the season.

 

 

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