The battle in the Bluegrass is starting before the season even tips off. Kentucky and Louisville are ranked among the top three teams in the country in most preseason rankings -- but their respective head coaches are also seeing who can have the most quotable one-liner of October.
At Big Blue Madness, John Calipari stated about Kentucky: “We don't just play college basketball. We are college basketball.”
Rick Pitino countered on Monday.
“It's going to be an exciting season,” the Louisville head coach said at a luncheon. “We are one year away from a potential mini-dynasty – one year.”
The Cardinals have been to back-to-back Final Fours, winning the 2013 national championship after falling to Kentucky in the national semifinals in 2012. (Of course, the Wildcats went on to win the title that season.)
Louisville brings back several key players from last season, although the Cardinals do lose Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng. Moreover, the status of power forward Chane Behanan is up in the air after the returning starter was suspended indefinitely last week.
“These guys are totally committed — totally bought into trying to do it again,” Pitino said. “Now does it take a little luck? Sure it does. But it takes more than luck. It takes talent, it takes focus, and it takes humility. These guys have it.
“If these players rise to the occasion once again — win another conference championship, go back to the Final Four — it takes three to have the makings of a dynasty.”
The last team to make three consecutive Final Four appearances was UCLA, which reached the national semifinals every season from 2006 to 2008.