Consider this your semiannual update on the college basketball series that hasn’t been played during the regular season in a decade.
John Calipari was passed the Kentucky/Indiana series hot potato on Tuesday night during a post-game press conference.
If you are hoping to see the series return, we have good news and bad news.
The good news is that there has been some level of dialogue between the head coaches on the topic.
“Mike (Woodson) and I are good friends and you know, we’ve talked about stuff, so, but there’s nothing imminent that I could talk to you about,” Calipari said.
To say that is news might be a stretch, since Woodson said something similar in May when he was asked about reviving the series.
“Calipari and I have hinted at it,” Woodson said. “But I would love to see it cause Indiana fans would love it. I would love to see it back if we can make it happen.”
Calipari then highlighted the other nonconference high-major opponents already on the Wildcats’ future slate. That’s the bad news.
“We gotta go to Notre Dame. I think we gotta do a Michigan thing. We still got the Big XII. You still got Louisville every year. You got the two tournaments that everyone wants in that we’re in,” Calipari said. “The greatest thing about those two neutral games is the four teams that are in it are lucky because the minute anybody would drop out, there would be 50 teams calling and begging to be in those tournaments.”
One of those neutral tournaments Kentucky is in falls on the same weekend as the soon ending Crossroads Classic. Kentucky plays Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas on Dec. 18 this year and on Dec. 17 next year.
While it isn’t clear when the series might be able to be renewed, a new tradition has emerged. Like Tom Crean and Archie Miller before him, Woodson is friends with Calipari.
“Mike’s a good guy and from what I understand they’re doing well too playing good basketball,” Calipari said. “Let me tell you he’s a hell of a coach and he’s a great guy. “I could tell you stories about what makes him a great guy, but he’s he’s doing great.”
Woodson is a year older than Calipari, and both started their NBA coaching careers at the same time in 1996, although they were never in the same place.
When Fred Glass was the AD at IU, Indiana was willing to play a four game rotating series, with two meetings on campus and two on neutral sites. But Calipari rejected any deal longer than two years, and any games played on campus.
Indiana vs. Kentucky is a series that dates back to 1924. The programs have met 57 times since then, including every year from 1969 through 2011. Calipari’s idea to play off campus does have precedence. From 1992 to 2006 the teams played at neutral sites with the crowd split 50/50.
Indiana won the most recent regular season meeting in 2011 when Christian Watford’s buzzer beating shot stunned the No. 1 Wildcats in Bloomington and sent the home crowd into a frenzy. Since then the programs have only met in the postseason — a 2012 NCAA Tournament game won by Kentucky, and the last matchup, a 2016 NCAA Tournament game won by IU.
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