Nearly every single year the perennial powerhouses of the University of Kentucky and Kansas University square off on the hardwood. Either it’s the school’s combined storied history or their similar colors but something keeps confusing national sports commentators, bloggers and journalist alike as to who is who.
Both schools tend to be near the top of the every year. Kansas having won four college basketball National Championships and numerous Big12 titles is second in all time wins only to guess whom? The University of Kentucky.
The University of Kentucky leads the nation in all time wins and is second only to UCLA in National titles with 8 currently under their belt.
You could argue who is the more dominant program or which one is more branded as the best basketball program in the history of the game.
The game all began in Kansas with James Naismith’s invention with a basket and a leather ball. Throwing balls through the hoop has since morphed in a much more complex and strategic endeavor.
Then you have one of the greatest basketball coaches of all-time. Phog Allen has a building dedicated to his basketball achievements on the Kansas campus in Lawrence. Arguably college basketball’s most intimidating environment, opposing teams are advised to “take heed” when they enter Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
Phog Allen was the first basketball coach to have coaching prodigies. Adolph Rupp played basketball under Phog Allen and then took his teaching talents east of the Mississippi to the University of Kentucky.
Adolph Rupp built and empire of his own in Lexington by leading the Kentucky Wildcats to five National Championships titles in his tenure. Adolph Rupp’s resume is second only to the Wizard of Westwood’s legendary John Wooden.
There’s also an edifice dedicated to college basketball in downtown Lexington with Rupp’s name on it. Rupp Arena and the city of Lexington are known as the Mecca of college basketball.
Few can try and stake claim to such a name but one trip to Lexington and you’ll see that basketball is more than a game in Kentucky. It truly is a religion. Basketball is a year round affair in Kentucky especially with the latest coaching icon who also had humble beginnings in the Jayhawk program.
Coach John Calipari has sparked the interest and intrigued the causal basketball fans to engage in their team year round. The beginning of the college basketball season is official in Lexington in early October.
This is where fans camp out for over a week to get tickets to a practice. You realize we’re talking about practice here. We’re talking about practice? It’s mid season in everyone else is knee deep in college football and we’re talking about practice? PRACTICE??
After the first official practice, focus shifts on over to the annual blue and white scrimmage. Here the team scrimmages itself in front of 20,000 plus rabid college basketball fans.
As the season begins, fans travel in droves to the pre conference games, which are big ticket, high profile games help in some of the country’s largest cities and biggest venues.
New York City, Atlanta, Las Vegas, or even Atlantis Kentucky fans travel to see their team. Road games in the Southeastern Conference are usually riddled by tons of Kentucky fans who somehow seem to “get in”.
The SEC Tournament is pretty much the Kentucky Invitational Tournament every year. It’s nothing for the arena to be filled with 25,000 Kentucky fans dressed in blue.
You can argue all day long as to who is the best program in all of college basketball. Duke and North Carolina are certainly in the top five mix but I believe that Kansas and Kentucky are a cut above the others.
The two programs have a lot of similarities between the two programs. From long histories and winning tradtions, to K’s and U’s in their logos and initials. Let’s clarify one thing to the all of TV’s talking heads. Kansas University is (KU) and the University of Kentucky is (UK) and the terms couldn’t be further from the same when spoken about to college basketball’s most loyal fan bases.
Is that clear?