Kentucky vs Louisville The Final Four Dream Game

By Dennis Berry

Battle of the Bluegrass Heads to the Big Easy

Bourbon Street had better be prepared. If they thought the Kentucky flood was bad during the SEC Tournament, wait until later this week. There will be a full state of Kentucky relocation this weekend for the Final Four.

That is because the Battle of the Bluegrass is coming to New Orleans. Kentucky and Louisville fans will come to New Orleans for perhaps the biggest chapter in the history of the two schools' rivalry. Think of this as the "Dream Game" Part 2.

The original "Dream Game" happened in the 1983 NCAA Tournament. That year Louisville defeated Kentucky 80-68 in the Mideast Regional Final. The game took place in Knoxville Tennessee.

It was the first time the two schools played each other in basketball since 1959. Since that game Kentucky and Louisville have played each season. In that time Kentucky has beaten Louisville 20 times. Louisville has beaten Kentucky 11 times.

While the original "Dream Game" had a trip to the Final Four on the line, this game has a chance to play for the National Championship Monday night. The Battle of the Bluegrass is for state bragging rights, but this game takes it to a whole new level. If the winning team on Saturday also wins the National Championship, the fans will be able to hold it over the other. This passes the team's annual regular season match-up.

With that said you have to believe that there will be more pressure on Kentucky and John Calipari than Louisville and Rick Pitino. Kentucky was ranked second in most preseason polls and many outlets picked them to play for the National Championship. They were lead by their third straight top recruiting class.

The Wildcats spent most of the second half of their season ranked number one in the country. They have the player many believe to be the National Player of the Year and number one pick in the next NBA Draft, Anthony Davis.

Kentucky vs Louisville  The Final Four Dream Game
University of Kentucky's Brandon Knight (12) shoots under pressure from University of Louisville's Preston Knowles (2) and Peyton Siva (3) during the second half of play in their NCAA basketball game at KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Their only loss during the regular season came at Indiana on a buzzer-beating three. Then they went undefeated in SEC play until they lost to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament Finals. They then had their way with Western Kentucky, Iowa State, Indiana, and Baylor on their way to New Orleans.

Louisville, on the other hand, started out the season as a preseason Top 10 team. They went 12-0 before struggling in Big East play. They struggled during Big East play only going 10-8 during the regular season while dealing with injuries.

They lost Mike Marra and Rakeem Buckles to season-ending knee injuries. Freshman Wayne Blackshear missed most of the season with a shoulder injury. The Cardinals have not been at full strength all year.

No one, outside of the Louisville faithful, thought that Louisville had a chance to be here. Yet they won four games in four days to win the Big East. Then they avoided close calls against Davidson and New Mexico during the first weekend to advance to the West Regional. There they knocked off West number one seed Michigan State and then defeated Florida to reach the Final Four.

Kentucky was expected to be here. Kentucky fans want the schoo'ls eighth National Championship and first since 1998 badly. Louisville fans would love to see their team keep Kentucky from achieving their ultimate goal.

The only thing that will be crazier than Bourbon Street on Saturday will be the state of Kentucky itself this week. Both fans will wear their colors proud throughout the week. Sports talk radio shows in the city of Louisville might be the closest thing that comes to the Paul Finebaum show the week of Alabama-Auburn.

Read More about Pitino and Louisville Rise Up.

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