Basketball is king in the Bluegrass State, always has been, always will be. The Louisville Cardinals and Kentucky Wildcats dominate the landscape and topics of conversation across the state all year long.
The in state rivalry is a tad underrated nationally in my opinion. There haven't been any Harvey Updyke situations but the rivalry is still intense.
The banter between the fans of both universities never stops. As a Kentuckian and UK fan, I have friends and family who are U of L fans.
Our conversations, whether in person or on social media, are animated, comical and humorously heated. Sometimes it's a mixture of all of the above.
Sunday's Midwest Regional final between the Cards and the Duke Blue Devils had me torn. I doubt that I was alone. It's tough deciding which bitter rival you would rather see win and move on to the Final Four.
I made my decision a little bit before tip-off.
Once the game started you could tell that the Cards were the better team. This was even the case during the early stages when they were both still feeling each other out.
This was the only region with a chalk regional final but the gap was apparent. The Cards were the No. 1 overall seed and they were playing like it.
The vibe was quite a bit different from their early season matchup that Duke won 76-71 back on Nov. 24.
With 6:39 left in the first half, my opinion (and I'm sure many others) was altered. Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome tibia fracture as he went to close out on a three-point attempt by Duke's Tyler Thornton.
If you haven't seen it, don't worry, you aren't going to see it here.
Stepped out and missed Kevin Ware's injury. Hate that for him and wish him the nothing but the best.— Vinny Hardy (@VinnyHardy) March 31, 2013
I saw the replay a little later on after the fact. Any time injuries are compared to Joe Theismann's, you know it's bad.
This was bad.
If anyone could relate, Theismann could.
Watching Duke/ Louisville my heart goes out to Kevin Ware.— Joe Theismann (@Theismann7) March 31, 2013
Louisville closed the first half on a 10-4 run and built on that in the second half as they rolled to an 85-63 victory. Even the most staunch UK supporters had to take a step back and let the normal feelings they feel toward the Cards dissipate.
All of the sudden, every UK fan I follow is pulling for Louisville. Kind of cool to see everyone put rivalry aside for a bit. #bbn4cards— Morgan White (@smorganwhite) March 31, 2013
Congrats, Cards. #BBN4Cards— Terry Brown (@TBrown_80) March 31, 2013
These are just a few of the many #BBN4Cards tweets that are out there. Kentucky fans and Louisville fans have become momentarily galvanized and everyone wants to see them bring a title back to the Commonwealth as well.
It is reminiscent of the harmony displayed among Auburn and Alabama fans after the devastating tornado that hit Tuscaloosa in 2011.
Not to be outdone, the Louisville women made their mark by taking down tourney favorite Baylor and Brittney Griner.
Louisville, with the help of 16 three-pointers, led for 39:51. They lost the lead when Odyssey Sims' free throws put Baylor ahead 81-80.
Monique Reid calmly sank her two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to reclaim the lead and seal the 82-81 win for the Cardinals.
It capped off a pretty epic day for the Derby City.
Credit has to be given where credit is due. It doesn't matter if you do it willingly or begrudgingly, but you have to give the Cardinals props.