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Is The UK/IU Rivalry Close To Returning?

The question that seems to keep resurfacing every 18 months or so seems to be, "Will the Kentucky vs. Indiana series ever return?" It's important to note that the question 95% of the time comes from the IU side, and many Kentucky fans will tell you they are open to the series returning but you won't find many who will aggressively beg for it back. The reason being is that younger crowd could care less and see it as punching down more than anything, as 'a lot to lose and not much to gain' situation as some would call it. But, there is that older crowd who grew up watching the series every year who desperately want it back.

Well, it looks like we are closer than ever to having it back since John Calipari once put an end to it back in 2011. With the recent hiring of Mike Woodson in March, Indiana now has a coach (and basketball alumnus) who wants to revive the rivalry. According to a report by, Indiana coach Mike Woodson said he’s still pushing for the series to resume even if it has to be played at a neutral site. “It might not be Bloomington, Lexington, I don’t know... But however way we can get it done, I’ll take it. So we’ve just got to figure that part of it out.”

A series that began on December 18, 1924, went on for decades to come, and from 1969 through 2011, never missed a year in playing each other. This sparked a hated rivalry which created a divide in the two states that were rich in High School basketball, and created popularity within the level of college basketball. John Calipari pushed to end the series after the Watford shot game in Bloomington, which put Kentucky's players in danger when Indiana fans stormed the court as No. 1 Kentucky got beat on the last second shot. John Calipari wasn't a fan of the series to begin with and this was his excuse to make the move. In my opinion, he just didn't want to play in Bloomington anymore for moments like that, because on the road your opponents can pull off atmospheres like that and can take down teams they aren't necessarily better than on any given night - which, that's a part of basketball, right? John Calipari would allow Indiana to come to Lexington, but wouldn't return the favor of home-and-home by traveling to Bloomington bi-yearly, and that wasn't suitable. After the season ended, IU athletic director Fred Glass negotiated that UK/IU play two games at Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis) and one game apiece at Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena every other year in hopes of keeping the rivalry going, which Cal turned down.

While there is room for Indiana to pick up the annual series again on their schedule, Kentucky is currently tied down with many annual obligations between the CBS Sports Classic, Champions Classic, Big 12/SEC Tournament and the Louisville game. I think Kentucky could work in Indiana somewhere in that Novemeber non-conference schedule, but am confident that Calipari would want to switch it for one of the other events instead of just adding it to the schedule - that's assuming he would even accept the rivalry to restart again.

Former Indiana basketball player and current head coach, Mike Woodson, seems adamant on getting the rivalry going again. “I’m going to stay on his heels about getting the Kentucky-Indiana series back on the table... Because I just think over the years, man, that was a hell of a game, going to Lexington and them coming down to Bloomington.”

I think adding this series again would be great for for fans on both sides. We could ditch one of those "nobody games" early in the schedule and play Indiana later in mid-December once each team gets a feel for their roster. That way Kentucky doesn't lose an early game from not having a true identity, which would result in Kentucky winning the majority of the games and continue showing the Hoosiers how irrelevant they still are. Unfortunately, I don't think it's likely this annual meetup happens again because of John Calipari not wanting it to, nor is there a chance in hell the Wildcats will travel to Bloomington, but man would this be a fun way to spark college basketball once more and revamp an old rivalry that was once a major deal.

While the recent interest is intriguing, it is very likely it comes back. The rich history of it has Kentucky leading the all-time series 32-25, as well as, 4-11 in Bloomington and 10-3 in Lexington.

Would you like to see it return?


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