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Louisville guard Russ Smith drives to the basket by Kentucky forwards Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer. (Photo by Jim Owens/Icon Sportswire)
March 22nd, 2022
March Madness is just plain special. It’s a college basketball smorgasbord, with blue-bloods locking horns with upstart programs and millions of people filling out brackets to follow along with the action.
While the dynamics of the field of 68 change every year, though, it certainly seems like a few rivalries have a habit of taking center stage in the postseason. We’ve highlighted five that stand out, including one that could be renewed soon!
This one should get more attention than it does. In addition to former Kansas coach Roy Williams leaving for Chapel Hill in 2003, the Jayhawks and Tar Heels have met in the Big Dance on six occasions. Kansas has won four of them, including the last three meetings in 2008, 2012, and 2013. North Carolina, however, topped a Wilt Chamberlain-led Kansas team to win the 1957 national title in a triple-overtime thriller.
2008 Final Four.Kansas vs North Carolina.@BRush_25 had a smooth 25 points. pic.twitter.com/uuIjbgxj3p— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) April 4, 2020
2008 Final Four.Kansas vs North Carolina.@BRush_25 had a smooth 25 points. pic.twitter.com/uuIjbgxj3p
Perhaps it’s not as heated as the gridiron rivalry between the two schools, but their basketball teams have engaged in some pitched battles over the years. Ohio State leads the overall series 107-82, but the Wolverines have their share of big wins over the Buckeyes, including a 75-71 thriller in the 1992 NCAA Tournament during the days of the Fab Five.
The early days of this rivalry were dominated by the Bruins, who won 22 of their first 25 meetings with the Wildcats through the 1983-84 season. That stretch includes an 82-66 decision that sent UCLA to the 1976 Final Four.
Lonzo Ball responded to an Allonzo Trier 3 with one of his own, quieted the McKale Center. pic.twitter.com/pf7QhjhCfJ— Derrek Li (@DerrekLi) February 26, 2017
Lonzo Ball responded to an Allonzo Trier 3 with one of his own, quieted the McKale Center. pic.twitter.com/pf7QhjhCfJ
Arizona, however, has battled back to whittle down the all-time series deficit to 61-44. While they haven’t met in the NCAA Tournament since that 1976 encounter, the two teams clashed in the Pac-12 Tournament seven times between 2010 and 2018, with the Wildcats winning four of those contests.
How even is this rivalry born in the old Big East? The Hoyas and the Wildcats have played 83 games, and Villanova has a narrow 42-41 advantage in the series.
If you’re a Georgetown fan, look away now (if you haven’t already).
#TBT to Villanova's historic upset of Georgetown in the 1985 National Championship! pic.twitter.com/8SDzBLOuGD— NCAA (@NCAA) January 11, 2018
#TBT to Villanova's historic upset of Georgetown in the 1985 National Championship! pic.twitter.com/8SDzBLOuGD
The most notable meeting between these two teams came in the championship game of the 1985 tournament. The Patrick Ewing-led Hoyas were huge nine-point favorites to win it all for a second straight year, but the Wildcats played a near-perfect game to spring a 66-64 upset.
No pro teams play in Kentucky, so tempers run hot when these two blue-bloods take the court. By the numbers, the Wildcats have the upper hand in the rivalry, owning a 37-17 advantage over the Cardinals.
Eight years ago tonight, Kentucky defeated Louisville 69-61 at the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans. Anthony Davis finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks. #BBN pic.twitter.com/klGxLuMCih— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) April 1, 2020
Eight years ago tonight, Kentucky defeated Louisville 69-61 at the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans. Anthony Davis finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks. #BBN pic.twitter.com/klGxLuMCih
The two squads have played each other in the NCAA Tournament six times. Kentucky has won four of those games, including a 69-61 victory in the 2012 Final Four. The Wildcats would go on to beat Kansas in the championship game two days later.
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