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Duke-Kentucky: Best Collegiate Rivalry?

Pretty intense, but not enough competition to call it that.

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NCAA Basketball: Champions Classic-Duke vs Kentucky
Nov 17, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) shoots the ball against Kentucky Wildcats guard Isaiah Briscoe (13) during the second half at United Center. 
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s an article by SBN’s excellent Ricky O’ Donnell which suggests that Duke and Kentucky are now the most intense rivalry in college, but there’s a flaw in that argument: they have to actually play once in a while to have a rivalry.

The Duke-UK (remember, kids, you can’t spell You Suck without UK) rivalry is unique though precisely because they play so infrequently.

And it’s also unique because it’s almost entirely driven by Kentucky insecurity.

Look at what drives the Kentucky intensity on this.

  1. a single play in 1992 by Christian Laettner
  2. Duke’s recent habit of out-recruiting Kentucky.

That’s about it.

Kentucky beat Duke in the Final Four in 1966 and the title game in 1978. Do you see us putting voodoo pins in Goose Givens dolls?

No you do not.

Duke and Kentucky have natural rivals in UNC and Louisville and those are great rivalries indeed.

We can’t base an entire rivalry on one side’s jealousy. We respect UK. We love to see Big Blue Nation have a tough time - Billy Clyde, we’re talking to you.

But most of what happens in this “rivalry” is Kentucky reacting to Duke. At whatever point Kentucky fans stop reacting to Duke and decide to focus on their own team, it’ll fade in a hurry.

Other than that Laettner business anyway.