cn|2 Sports Commentary: UK, UofL & IU Basketball

01/04/2012 12:37 PM

For the first time in a long time, the basketball Big Three of Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana are clicking simultaneously. Kentucky is the country’s No. 2 team in this week’s AP poll, with Louisville 11th and Indiana 12th.

All three programs have had their moments over the years, but they’ve all never seemed to happen at the same time. IU made a surprise run to the NCAA title game in 2002 under Mike Davis while Rick Pitino was still in the early phases of a rebuilding job at Louisville. By the time Pitino got UofL to a Final Four in 2005, the IU program had bottomed out under Davis and entered the destructive Kelvin Sampson Era. Around that same time, Tubby Smith was on his way out at UK, and the disastrous Billy Gillispie tenure soon followed.

But now life is all good for the Big Three. John Calipari has quickly turned UK into the ‘it’ program on the national landscape. In addition to a Final Four, Pitino has taken the Cards to a pair of Elite Eights and should have a squad capable of making another March run. And Tom Crean’s Hoosiers have been one of the major stories of the first part of the season, having already beaten UK when they ranked No. 1 and Ohio State when they were ranked second.

Only two times in the past 27 years have all three teams entered the NCAA Tournament as a Top Four seed. It happened in 1986, when UofL, a No. 2 seed, ended up winning the national title, and again in 1993, when UK made the Final Four while IU beat UofL in the Sweet Sixteen.

All three teams are on track to be Top Four seeds in this year’s tourney. UK is a No. 1 seed, IU a three, and UofL a four according to the latest Bracketology by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. The Cats are a strong bet to be in New Orleans for the Final Four, and if a few balls bounce their way, the Cards and Hoosiers could make it too. That would bring new meaning to the term March Madness around Kentuckiana.

I’m Chip Cosby and this has been a CN|2 Sports Commentary.


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