Whereas, it’s 650 miles as the crow flies — 766 by car — between the home of Rick Pitino’s Cardinals and the coach’s beloved Madison Square Garden.
Which is to say, it’s neat that U of L and IU are battling tonight in NY, NY, at the world’s most famous arena, to benefit the Jimmy V Foundation.
But, why oh why aren’t these teams meeting on a regular basis here in Kentuckiana?
They did in the 80s, when the Cards got the better of the Hoosiers in 4 of 5 meetings. Having attended most of those, I can vouch that beating Bobby Knight never failed to be fun. The last time the schools played was 2003, another Cardinal W, though IU leads the all-time series, 10-6.
This is a series that should be annual and in perpetuity.
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Louisville’s a 9 1/2 point favorite tonight.
Don’t expect the game to tip until 9:30 or 9:45. Villanova meets Illinois on the undercard.
In case you’ve developed some toxic reaction to Dickie V through the years,1 have your ear plugs and antidote handy. I’m advised he’ll be bellowing behind the mic during the contest about this and that and the other and on occasion perhaps but rarely the action unfolding before him.
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In advance of tonight’s tilt, I perused the IU media guide.
I was most interested in checking out who the famously undefeated ’76 national champs played during that season outside of the Big Ten schedule.
The Hoosiers non-conference slate included nary a directional school walkover. They played three Top 20 schools, opening the year with a W over #2, and also besting UK and St. John’s. The Hoosiers also bested Florida State, Notre Dame, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Columbia and Manhattan.
What I’d forgotten is who they beat in the NCAA to win the title. This was before seeding.
In order, they routed #17 St. John’s again, 90-70, then #6 Alabama, 74-69, followed by #2 Marquette in the regional final, 65-56.
They conquered #5 UCLA again in the national semis, 65-51, capturing the crown, completing the hat trick against #9 Michigan, 86-68.
While loathe to give any credit to the most duplicitous cur in the history of college hoops — that would be Bobby Knight — he could coach once upon a time. And the ’76 champs remain worthy of all the praise they’ve received through the decades.
As a Cardinal fan, I’m hoping the Hoosiers don’t somehow tap into that transcendent zeitgeist tonight.
— Seedy K