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The Kentucky–Louisville rivalry refers to the rivalry between the University of Kentucky Wildcats (Kentucky) and the University of Louisville Cardinals (Louisville). The Kentucky–Louisville rivalry is one of the most passionate rivalries, especially in men's college basketball. It is considered one of the most intense rivalries in the NCAA. The intensity of the rivalry is captivated by the proximity of the two schools and the state of Kentucky's interest in college sports (no pro-affiliated sports teams play in the state of Kentucky).
|Sport||basketball, football, others|
|Locations of Kentucky and Louisville|
|Stadium||Kroger Field||Cardinal Stadium|
|Arena||Rupp Arena||KFC Yum! Center|
|First meeting||February 15, 1913|
Kentucky 34, Louisville 10
|Latest meeting||December 28, 2019|
Kentucky 78, Louisville 70
|Next meeting||December 28, 2019|
|All-time series||Kentucky leads, 37–16 Regular season and 2 NCAA|
|Largest victory||Kentucky: 34 points (1948)|
Louisville: 22 points (1988)
|Current win streak||Kentucky, 3 (2017–present)|
The Kentucky–Louisville rivalry has been ranked the 2nd best rivalry in college basketball by Bleacher Report and 3rd best rivalry in all of college sports by Basketball Hall of Fame contributor Dick Vitale. Kentucky and Louisville first played against each other in 1913 but stopped playing each other in the 1920s, playing only twelve times between 1913 and 1983. The rivalry was generally dormant with only occasional matchups until the teams met in the 1983 NCAA Tournament. Since then, the two teams have met each year in late December or early January.
Much like the Iron Bowl, the Kentucky–Louisville rivalry is all the more intense because the two schools have consistently been among the nation's elite men's basketball teams for most of the last 50 years. Both schools are also two of the most victorious programs in NCAA men's basketball history; Kentucky is #1 on the list of all-time winningest programs in Division I Men's Basketball and Louisville #26. Kentucky has eight national championships and Louisville two. Both schools also sit in the top-ten of men's basketball teams that have had athletes to get picked in the first round of the NBA draft. Kentucky has had 46 players selected in the first round, while Louisville has had 24.
The rivalry was fueled when Rick Pitino was hired as Louisville's head men's basketball coach in 2001, as he served in that same role with Kentucky from 1989 to 1997. Kentucky leads the all-time series with Louisville 37-16, and Kentucky leads the modern series 28-13. In six tournament meetings as of 2014, Kentucky leads the series four games to two with their most recent win coming in the 2014 sweet sixteen 74-69. The teams met in the 2012 Final Four, and Kentucky defeated Louisville with a score of 69-61 en route to the national title. This was the deepest ever tournament meeting between the two schools and their first tournament meeting since 1984.
Rankings are from the AP Poll (1936–present)
|Kentucky victories||Louisville victories||Tie games||Vacated wins[n 1]|
- Louisville has vacated all of its victories from the 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15 seasons. These 123 wins are not included in Louisville's all-time record, nor are the victories against Kentucky during this span counted in the series record between the two teams.
A 1948 NCAA Basketball Tournament
B 1951 NCAA Basketball Tournament
C 1959 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament
D 1983 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament
E 1984 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament
F 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament
G 2014 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament
NOTE:. The 2010 game was the inaugural year for the award. The Bluegrass Sports Commission (BSC) names the Most Valuable Player of the men's basketball game between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.
|12-31-2010||Josh Harrellson||Kentucky||C||23 Points, 14 Rebounds |
|12-31-2011||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||Kentucky||F||24 Points, 19 Rebounds|
|12-29-2012||Russ Smith||Louisville||G||21 points, 7 rebounds|
|12-28-2013||James Young||Kentucky||F||18 Points, 10 Rebounds|
|12-27-2014||Tyler Ulis||Kentucky||G||14 Points, 2 Assists|
|12-26-2015||Tyler Ulis||Kentucky||G||21 Points, 8 Assists|
|12-21-2016||Quentin Snider||Louisville||G||22 Points, 6 Rebounds, 5 Assists|
|12-29-2017||Shai Gilgeous-Alexander||Kentucky||G||24 Points, 5 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 3 Steals|
|12-29-2018||Tyler Herro||Kentucky||G||24 Points, 5 Rebounds, 2 Steals|
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The football rivalry between Kentucky and Louisville started one year earlier than the basketball rivalry but also had a long dormant period. Kentucky and Louisville first played each other in football in 1912. Kentucky dominated six meetings between the teams from 1912 until 1924, holding Louisville scoreless in all six games, after which the teams stopped playing. In 1994, with former Kentucky player Howard Schnellenberger coaching Louisville, the series was revived after a 70-year dormancy. Kentucky leads the series currently 17–15 but Louisville leads the Governors Cup series 15-11.
From 1994 to 2006 the annual matchup was the first game of the season for Kentucky and was the first game for all but two of those years for Louisville. In 2007 the game was moved to the third game of the season when played in Lexington but remained the first game when played in Louisville. Starting in 2014, which marked Louisville's inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Governor's Cup became the last game of the regular season for both teams to coincide with several other ACC-SEC same-state rivalries.
The 2019 game was won by Kentucky 45-13. Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. was named MVP of the showdown.
- Women's basketball: Kentucky leads the series 34–20 as of the 2017–18 season. Most recently, no. 3 Louisville beat Kentucky 87-63 in Lexington on December 17, 2017. Kentucky entered that game having won five of the past six meetings with Louisville. The series dates back to the 1911–12 season, long before Kentucky and Louisville's programs became varsity in 1974–75, from which the series has been continuously active.
- Women's volleyball: Most recently winning 3-0 in Lexington, Kentucky leads the series 30–25 as of 2018 in a series that initially was played every year from 1977 to 2005 except in 1981 and resumed in 2009 after a hiatus.
- Men's soccer: The two men's soccer programs have met 31 times. Kentucky leads 15–14–5. The last meeting between the two was on September 3, 2019 which ended in a 3-0 Louisville win.
- Baseball: As of 2018, Kentucky leads the series 71–45–1 in a series dating back to 1925. In 2017, Louisville won the season series 3–1, including a sweep of Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament Louisville Super Regional.
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- "Louisville Hires Pitino To Spice A Rivalry". The New York Times. March 22, 2001.
- "Kentucky's Record versus Louisville". Big Blue History. Retrieved September 16, 2007.
- . Washington Post, 2018-02-20.
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- "Louisville Cardinals vs. Kentucky Wildcats - Box Score - December 28, 2013 - ESPN". ESPN.com.
- "Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals - Box Score - December 27, 2014 - ESPN". ESPN.com.
- "Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals - Box Score - December 26, 2015 - ESPN". ESPN.com.
- "Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals - Box Score - December 21, 2016 - ESPN". ESPN.com.
- "Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wins MVP award; Highlights of his breakout game vs Louisville". aseaofblue.com.
- "Tyler Herro named Bluegrass Sports Commission MVP of the Game". kentuckysportsradio.com.
- "Kentucky-Louisville Postgame Notes". University of Kentucky Athletics. December 17, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- "Kentucky Hosts No. 3/4 Louisville Sunday in Memorial Coliseum". University of Kentucky. December 15, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- "Scores vs. All Opponents" (PDF). Believe in Blue: 2017-18 Women's Basketball Media Guide. University of Kentucky. 2017. p. 153.
- Kentucky Volleyball 2017 Media Guide (PDF). University of Kentucky. 2017. pp. 62–63.
- Moore, Deb (September 15, 2017). "No. 12 Kentucky Wins Fifth Straight Over Louisville". Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- Wall, Garrett (September 5, 2017). "Cardinals Shut Out No. 9 Wildcats 3-0". gocards.com. Louisville Cardinals. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
- "Kentucky vs. all opponents" (PDF). 2017 Kentucky Baseball Media Guide. University of Kentucky. 2017. p. 108.