Who is the bluest of bluebloods?
On January 28, the Kansas Jayhawks visit Rupp Arena to take on the Kentucky Wildcats in a battle of two of college basketball’s premier bluebloods. Both programs claim rich histories filled with wins, All-Americans, legendary coaches, rabid fan bases, and savored traditions. From cold-hard facts to admittedly objective metrics, The Chucker, 19nine’s resident historian, pits these two blueblood programs against one another to determine the bluest of bluebloods – though two schools on Tobacco Road might have something to say about that title.
Kansas and Kentucky have met 34 times on the hardwood. Kentucky holds a decisive 24 to 10 edge in victories, including a 67-59 victory over the Jayhawks in the 2012 National Championship game. While Kentucky won 16 of its first 17 matchups over Kansas, beginning with a 68-39 shellacking of the Jayhawks on Dec. 16, 1950, it’s been a more even series of late. Kansas, in fact, has won nine of the 17 meetings since the 1985-1986 season. The Edge: Kentucky
Final Fours and National Titles
Kentucky holds a slight 17-16 edge over Kansas in Final Four appearances. The Wildcats’ eight national titles, however, double the four crowns the Jayhawks possess. The Edge: Kentucky
Kentucky boasts some of college basketball’s most dynamic players, from Jack Givens to Jamal Mashburn to Anthony Davis, but just about any list of UK greats begins with Dan Issel, the Wildcats all-time leading scorer. Over his three seasons in Lexington, Issel averaged 25.8 points per game while leading the Wildcats to a 71-12 mark. The Jayhawks, however, claim one of the game’s all-time greats in Wilt Chamberlain – and Wilt the Stilt’s greatness over any Wildcat is indisputable. The Edge: Kansas
Without question, Rupp Arena is a premier college basketball destination filled with history and character. BUT the Phog is tough to beat. Opened in 1955, Allen Fieldhouse captured the Guinness World Record for the loudest roar at an indoor sporting event, its 130.4 dB mark in 2017 breaking a record previously held by Rupp Arena. Yet more, Kansas has won more than 87 percent of its games at Allen Fieldhouse over the last 67 years. The Edge: Kansas
There’s no question Kansas has a devout and loyal following, evident by a two decades-long sellout streak at Allen Fieldhouse. Big Blue Nation, though, is perhaps the most intense and ardent fan base in the country. Talking UK hoops is an around-the-year adventure in Kentucky, where a Final Four run is the annual expectation and hoops debates get especially heated, even in the summer. The Edge: Kentucky
There are other Wildcats – Villanova, Kansas State, and Arizona among them. There is, however, only one Jayhawk in big-time college hoops and that singularity, not to mention the vibrancy of the Jayhawk logo, makes it distinctive and special. The Edge: Kansas
Kentucky’s history is undeniably rich. The program boasts eight national titles and iconic coaches like Adolph Rupp and Rick Pitino. The Wildcats were one half of the greatest college basketball game ever played (yes, that’s Duke vs. Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament). Coach Cal perfected recruiting in the one-and-done age, shifting the modern game and forcing others to play catchup. The Wildcats’ history is tough to beat, though Kansas might hold the ultimate historical trump card in Dr. James Naismith, basketball’s founding father. Naismith wrote the original rules of basketball and was KU’s first basketball coach – albeit the only losing coach in the history of Jayhawk basketball. The Edge: Tie