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Dream Game Much More than “Basketball” | Kentucky

As everyone knows, growing up in Kentucky means you will most likely become a University of Louisville or University of Kentucky fan.  You will receive influences from your parents, and grandparents, friends will try to sway you, and elementary school teachers will use their personal ties to either school for decoration in the classroom, all to add to the long history that is college basketball in Kentucky.

Kentucky and Louisville have played numerous times in my 27 years as a basketball fan; yes, I have been a fan since day one in 1985.   One thing I have personally never seen was a UK-UL NCAA Tournament game.  I missed the last one by 11 months, when the two teams met in the regional semifinals, a game Kentucky won before losing to Georgetown in the Final Four.

I was in high school once when the two teams had a chance to meet in the tournament, which sparked a discussion at my church about how much the “Dream Game” would mean to us, as UK and U of L fans.  What would we say?  Who would win?  When everyone loves one team and hates the other, that can be a heated conversation in the Bluegrass State, even in church.  However, that game, much like many other dreams as a child, never came true.

When the two teams finally tip off at 5:09 CST on Saturday in New Orleans, the entire state will be watching, rooting for one and against the other.  Which brings to question why in the world would John Calipari say “It’s basketball”?

This game is much more than basketball, for days fans of each team will take to Twitter, Facebook, online forums and the streets to proclaim their team’s dominance over the other.  It is so much more than “basketball” to each and every Kentuckian; it is a dream come true.

Whichever team finds its way to the NCAA Championship; there will be many negative things said about them, as well as many positives, but I can hear it now, people in Louisville will ask how long until this win is vacated, and people in Lexington will bring up a particular trial from a few years ago.  The Wildcats have won three straight games against the Cardinals since Calipari came to Lexington, but Cats fans will refuse to remember the two years prior when that Texan coach couldn’t get a win over the Cards.

During this week leading up to the game, the tension will build, the blood pressure will rise, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will fill to the rafters with blue and red.  The Wildcats will look to do what they couldn’t do in the SEC Tournament, and the Cardinals will look to do what only Denny Crum has done…win a National Championship.

Whatever happens on Saturday evening, for those of us born in 1985 and later, isn’t it fitting that the first time we ever see Kentucky beat Tennessee in football, we get to see Kentucky and Louisville in the Final Four.  I cannot wait for this game that is so much more than “basketball.”

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