It isn’t the Kentucky Derby or Derby Week, but it’s the next best sports thing for Louisville: Part of the NCAA basketball tournament — including the Kentucky Wildcats — and possibly Western Kentucky’s Hilltoppers and Murray State’s Racers, the darlings of Dick Vitale and fans of the smaller schools.
Kentucky, top seed in the entire tournament, and its horde of followers will show up in Louisville for the Wildcats’ 6:50 p.m. Thursday game against the winner of a Tuesday play-in game between Western Kentucky and Miss. Valley State. Sean Woods, a member of UK’s Unforgetables, coaches Miss. Valley.
Coach Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals, surprise champions of the Big East Conference Tournament, also are in the NCAA and will play Davidson at 1:40 p.m. Thursday in Phoenix.
All on TV
Every tournament game will be on one of four networks. Check your TV listings each day.
Louisville’s portion of the NCAA could be called the “Jim Host NCAA Tournament” because we wouldn’t have it without him.
Jim, of course, ram-rodded the building of KFC YUM! Center as chairman of the Arena committee, and has been a close associate of the NCAA for years.
Fittingly, the NCAA visit to Louisville follows by one week when Host learned that he will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Mo.
The KFC YUM! Center’s Ohio Riverside location was selected to liven up downtown Louisville — and has it ever!
YUM! is the home of UofL’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Won title in state!
The NCAA and the University of Kentucky have historically been good to each other, but never more than when Adolph Rupp’s Wildcats won the national championship in 1958 without leaving the state of Kentucky!
Not as many teams were selected for the NCAA Tournament then and Rupp won his fourth national title by beating Miami of Ohio 94-70 and Notre Dame 89-56 in the Mideast Regional in Memorial Coliseum on the UK campus and then clinched the national championship at Freedom Hall in Louisville by defeating Temple 61-60 and Seattle 84-72.
It was all-Kentucky all the way!
Kentucky has been host to seven finals, six times at Louisville’s Freedom Hall and once at Lexington’s Rupp Arena.