The reception to the immediate renewal of the Louisville/Indiana basketball series has been met with a nearly universally positive response ever since Rick Pitino said U of L was pursuing the move last month. Excitement and intrigue hit new heights after it was announced last week that the Hoosiers would be discontinuing their annual series with Kentucky after the two sides couldn't agree where the games should be played.
Sadly, it appears as though IU and U of L - which both figure to be ranked somewhere in the top five when the first preseason polls are released - will not meet this season.
"We pursued getting a game with them, but it looks like they don't have a spot on the schedule," Pitino told me in a phone conversation this afternoon. "But we're definitely interested in doing something for the next season, because I think it would be a great series for both programs and for college basketball."
Pitino said he didn't know where IU was going with the opening in its schedule created by the end of its series with Kentucky, but said, "I think they're going with a buy game at home to fill that spot."
Lame. Super lame.
My initial reaction is that this has more to do with the close relationship Tom Crean and John Calipari have than it does anything else. The two are well-established bros, and Crean doesn't want to step on Calipari's toes after Cal has come out and defended his "popular, long-time rivalries don't exist" stance so vehemently.
College basketball is in desperate need of high-profile non-conference matchups if it wants to steal any attention away from football during November, December and January. The fact that Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana - three programs which care about college basketball as much or more than any others in the country and who just might begin next season ranked 1, 2, 3 - won't be playing one another this year is bad for each program and bad for the sport as a whole.
It's cool, though. Kentucky/Fairfield and Indiana/UT-Martin will be just as fruitful and entertaining.