On Saturday, the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals take on the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats in a Final Four matchup for the right to advance to the 2012 NCAA Tournament National Championship game. These two teams met back on Dec. 31, and the Wildcats pulled out a 69-62 win over the Cardinals in the continuation of a bitter in-state rivalry that SB Nation's Mike Rutherford calls the best rivalry in college basketball. The stakes are incredibly high for the rematch, so this is the perfect time to sit down and read Rutherford's wonderful story on exactly why Louisville Vs. Kentucky Is College Basketball's Top Rivalry. Here is a small snippet from the story that highlights how the inherent tension between the two programs is compounded by a mutually destructive relationship between John Calipari and Rick Pitino:
Calipari has taken pot shot after pot shot at Pitino and Louisville over the past year, most notably referring to Kentucky as "the only real program in the state." This was the comment that finally drew a response from Pitino.
"Four things I've learned in my 59 years about people," Pitino said. "I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant and I ignore the paranoid."
"If the shoe fits anyone," he added. "Wear it."
But the rivalry between the head coaches is far deeper than the recent words go. Calipari has beaten Pitino handily in each of their two head-to-head meetings as head coaches of the Commonwealth's major programs. He has brought in the No. 1 recruiting class in America three straight times, and on Saturday will start a freshman point guard whom Pitino had made a top priority recruit for three years.
Still, it's Pitino who has what Calipari wants: a national championship.
Here is the game time and TV schedule for the rematch on Saturday:
(4) Louisville Cardinals vs. (1) Kentucky Wildcats
Game date: Saturday, March 31
Game time: 5:09 p.m. CT
For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, poke around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for tons of analysis on the Final Four in New Orleans.