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Always A Big Game, Duke And Kentucky Seems Bigger Than Normal This Time

It’s largely because of Coach K but not entirely

State Farm Champions Classic
RJ Barrett locked in

Duke and Kentucky is always a big deal. As we detailed recently, 1966, 1978, 1980, 1988, 1992, 1998 and 2018 were all huge games but things didn't get heated until 1992 and Christian Laettner’s legendary game-winning shot.

That’s saying a lot considering the historic nature of the 1966 game - all white Kentucky played Texas Western with five black starters after beating all-white Duke. The 1978 title game featured perhaps Duke’s most exhilarating team ever. In 1980, Duke beat Kentucky in the NCAA tournament - in Rupp. The 1988 game saw Duke humiliate UK with an embarrassingly easy win in the Tip-Off Classic. And of course the world learned about Zion Williamson after a jaw-dropping game vs. Kentucky in 2018.

Still, this game feels a bit different. Obviously part of it is that Mike Krzyzewski will leave the stage after this season (notably, Kentucky’s John Calipari said he’d like two shots at Duke this season and then pressed a reporter to make sure he understood his answer).

But it seems like more than that. Maybe it’s just that Madison Square Garden will be full after missing so much life since Covid caused so much chaos for us all. Basketball is a pretty minor thing in comparison but we can tell you we missed the electric nature of a tight game in front of a delirious crowd. There’s nothing quite like that.

And maybe it’s that Duke was so off last year and Kentucky was, well honestly, awful. Both teams are Top Ten quality teams this year and that helps.

The build up has been really strong and the excitement tangible. So we’re not surprised to see that Draft Kings Sportsbook has Duke as a -1 favorite. We don’t want to say what we think before the game but if we can find someone trustworthy, we’ll tell them what we think and ask them to validate it on Twitter afterwards.