UK coach John Calipari today talked again about wanting to put some juice back into the Wildcats’ annual game in Louisville. He’s right to do so, and with Freedom Hall becoming much more available after last season, not only will UK have more flexibility with scheduling, but will have a chance to “blue” the place up a little. Or a lot.
If they’ve got the money, they might even think about springing for a custom “UK court” for Freedom Hall. Though that might be over the top for just one game a year.
I think you have to go in expecting that nobody is going to do what Notre Dame used to do, and come in every season. It just isn’t done anymore.
Anyway, I’m stealing a blog topic from UK beat writer Brett Dawson. Brett gave in an entry you can read by clicking here his thoughts on the best possible opponents for UK to play in the Hall.
Here are mine:
1). Indiana. Calipari has already said he’d like to do split tickets and move the game back to neutral sites. If the tickets are split, this is a game that could, and perhaps should, be played in Louisville’s new downtown arena. Otherwise, it’s a natural for Freedom Hall. The annual UK-IU game with a split crowd in Freedom Hall was, when both teams were rolling, one of the best atmospheres of the season in college basketball.
2). Notre Dame. UK’s traditional Louisville opponent, the Irish have their program back at a high level and would provide a matchup that national TV would love, given the national followings of both schools.
3). West Virginia. Bob Huggins vs. Calipari has been as entertaining a coaching rivalry as you could ask for. The back-and-forth would be fun, the Mountaineers are close by and improving every year under Huggins. They’re one of a couple of programs that are close enough to home and probably would benefit from the exposure of the game without demanding a return trip.
4). Minnesota. Why not bring Tubby Smith back to the state? He’s got Minnesota on the move, and UK fans no doubt would enjoy having him back. It’s not the animosity factor that you have with Pitino, I don’t think.
5). Purdue. Brett mentioned the Boilermakers and I agree. They’re a really good program in the region that would benefit from the exposure of the game, and like WVU, maybe wouldn’t command some kind of return arrangement.
6). Butler/Xavier/Western Kentucky. There’s nothing wrong with playing one of the better so-called mid-majors close to home in this setting.