Despite the notion that the Kentucky versus Indiana game in Bloomington last winter was one of the most exciting games played all season, the two historic programs will not be meeting this year. IU and Kentucky had played a game against each other for 43 seasons in a row, but the respective administrations could not come to an agreement about the series in the future.
Kentucky wanted the series played at neutral sites, like Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and Freedom Hall in Louisville. A setup like that would produce more revenue, and it was the norm from 1990 until 2005, when the series flipped to home courts because of a scheduling conflict.
It was Indiana who wanted to have the series continue with games at Assembly Hall and Kenutcky's Rupp Arena. This setup would mean less money, but it would be easier for students to attend and would lead to much more raucous arena atmospheres.
IU athletic director Fred Glass explained the situation in a press release.
"While we understand that such neutral site games could be quite lucrative, we think the series should be continued as it is, home and home," said Glass. "Playing on campus enables our students to attend these marquee games which we believe is a great component of the overall college experience. Playing in the historic venues that are Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena is also a tremendous experience for our student-athletes."
Although it's hard to imagine that both sides couldn't reach some sort of compromise, Indiana and Kentucky will not play each other during the regular season in the near future. We're hoping that the historic nature of the rivalry and the great passion that both fanbases have toward their teams will cause the series to be continued at some point. For now, Inside the Hall says that IU made the right call.
In the end, Indiana decided keeping the game in front of its own fans every other season at Assembly Hall was the most important factor and it's hard to argue the logic. Last season's game produced the best atmosphere of the regular season in college basketball that cannot be reproduced at a neutral site. Walking away from the rivalry now, even if it's just for a couple of years, could produce the birth of another great home-and-home series.
Anyone who watched both Indiana/Kentucky games last season will tell you that the Assembly Hall atmosphere made a big difference for the Hoosiers. I'm pretty sure that playing the game in the enormous Lucas Oil Stadium wouldn't come close to providing that kind of hysteria, so it's tough to find fault in Indiana's logic.
Looks like we have one less thing to look forward to next season. We've still got a long summer ahead of us, though.