Will Louisville & Kentucky Come to Terms on the Battle of the Bluegrass?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As the Louisville men's basketball program continues to piece together its 2020-21 non-conference schedule following the NCAA's decision to push back college basketball's start date, one game in particular has remained the focal point of attention.
At this time, it still remains to be seen if the Cardinals will get to play their annual rivalry game against the Kentucky Wildcats in the Battle of the Bluegrass. That is, at least, on the Louisville side of things.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari remains poised to make it happen, saying Tuesday that the Wildcats already "have the date and the time [for the game] unless that changes". While he didn't reveal when that was, the game is typically played in late December with Kentucky coming to Louisville for this year's iteration of the rivalry.
On the other side of things, Louisville head coach Chris Mack has expressed some doubts on if the rivalry will take place this season. On top of citing scheduling concerns, he also mentioned that differing crowd sizes could give UK an unfair advantage.
"For instance, the University of Cincinnati, we were supposed to play our second game of the season against those guys at their place. Talking to John Brannen, how fair is it for us to play their home game in front of literally no fans and then have him return the game?" Mack told John Fanta on the "Fullcourt Press with Fanta and Adams" podcast earlier this month.
"I think the same thing holds true for the Louisville-Kentucky game. Where is the equity of Kentucky coming here in front of no fans and then having to go back to Rupp Arena in front of 21,000 fans?”
Just two days later, Calipari responded to these comments by Mack and made clear his intentions of maintaining the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry and that he had talked to Mack about the subject.
"While I understand the difficulty and the complications created by the pandemic, we are prepared to come to Louisville to play this season under the previously agreed upon terms, and we fully expect Louisville to honor the agreement with a return game to Rupp Arena next season," Calipari said to the Courier-Journal.
Unlike Kentucky, who has filled six of their seven permitted non-conference games, Louisville is still scrambling to fill theirs. The renewed rivalry game with UC could be on hold for reasons similar to the UK game, and it has been reported that the Cards have withdrawn from the MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas.
One way that Louisville is attempting to remedy their newfound scheduling woes is by hosting a non-conference bubble at the KFC Yum! Center. It would run from Nov. 25 to Dec. 5 and host 8-12 teams, but finalized details have yet to be unveiled.
Will the Wildcats be one of those teams? We're not quite sure yet. While he has since expressed that he wants to make the game happen, Mack also added that UK seemingly wants it done "on their terms" after attempts to get the game played at a neutral venue went nowhere.
On thing is certain, though. With the start of the season now less than two months away, a decision or agreement needs to come sooner rather than later.
(Photo of Chris Mack, John Calipari: Matt Stone/Courier Journal)
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