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Tonight, the University of Kentucky Men's Basketball Team takes the court against the Duke Blue Devils. For many of us, this is a game fueled by intense rivalry, which makes it rather surprising that this will only be the twenty-first time the teams have met over the span of eighty-five years.
As we count down to tip-off, here are a few must-know trivia tidbits to fuel your #BBN obsession. Go Big Blue!
1. The Kentucky-Duke rivalry spreads over eighty-five years. The teams first met in March 1930 in Atlanta, at the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament.Duke won that game, 37-32. (Duke went on to lose to Alabama in the finals.)
2. The teams have met twenty times: Kentucky has won 11 of those games, while Duke has won 9.
3. The record for most points scored by a single player in a Duke-Kentucky game is held by UK legend Jack "Goose" Givens in the 1978 National Championship Game. Givens scored 41 points, including 18 fields goal.
4. Kentucky holds 8 National Championship Titles; Duke has 5.
5. The 1992 East Regional Final game is remembered by most Kentucky fans as perhaps the most painful loss to Duke. The 104-103 overtime Blue Devils win included Christian Laettner's memorable technical foul against Aminu Timberlake and that last shot -- you know the one, because the Worldwide Leader shows it a thousand times every spring -- well, you know how it ended.
Tonight's the night, BBN. Big Blue Madness, our first glimpse at the 2016 Wildcats. The greatest recruiting tool in college basketball, where we've learned over the years that Drake is a 'Cats Fan, and that at least one Miss America bleeds blue and where we've seen Coach Pitino on a Harley, Mr. Keightley jump out of a cake, and as many sick dance moves as Coach Mitchell cares to lay down. In honor of tonight's event, here's some Big Blue Madness Trivia for y'all.
- The first Kentucky Wildcats late night practice was held on October 15, 1982. Although UK Coach Joe B. Hall was not the first coach to hold an open scrimmage or practice to kick off basketball season, his "Midnight Special" is credited with popularizing the custom.
- Big Blue Madness was held in Memorial Coliseum from 1982-2004 and was moved to Rupp Arena in 2005.
- Although the free event welcomes thousands of Wildcats super-fans, the unofficial guests of honor are always high schoolers. The blue chip recruits whom we hope to sway toward the Big Blue Nation are conspicuously in attendance. The day after the 1991 Big Blue Madness, all four recruits in attendance -- Rodrick Rhodes, Jared Prickett, Tony Delk, and Walter McCarty -- verbally committed to UK.
- Some of the celebrities who've attended Big Blue Madness include Drake, Secretariat owner Penny Chenery, Miss America Heather French, and, of course, Ashley Judd.
- The 2002 Big Blue Madness celebrated the 100th anniversary of Kentucky Basketball. A giant birthday cake was brought to center court prior to the player introductions, with Mr. Wildcat, Bill Keightley, stealing the show by jumping out of the cake.
- When it became clear that the Internet was here to stay, tickets to BBM became even harder to acquire. The 2000 Big Blue Madness market the first time that tickets were available for online purchase; all 700 were distributed in 13 minutes. The remaining 8,000 were gone in 10 minutes to those waiting in line.
- In 1995, seniors Tony Delk and Walter McCarty made their grand appearance as "Cat"man and Robin.
- And, of course, in 2012, this happened. And it was the best.
The KY Kernel has a great rundown of this year's 'Cats. I don't know about y'all, but I sure am excited to meet them!
Go Big Blue!!!
While we're all agonizing over our brackets and waiting for The Big Dance to start, here's the guide to what's really important about March Madness for fans of the University of Louisville Cardinals and the University of Kentucky Wildcats: Celebrity Endorsements. We've broken down the brackets for HerKentucky's Elite Eight Pairings of Celeb Super-Fans, and applied some Joe Lunardi-style bracketology to offer up our best picks.
The Hunger Games Edition
The stars of The Hunger Games are both Kentucky natives but they fall on opposite sides of the team lines.
Josh Hutcherson, a native of Northern Kentucky, cheers for the Cats
Winner : Team Katniss. J-Law is just as fierce without archery gear. Sorry, Peeta.
The Heartthrob Edition
Leonardo DiCaprio reps the Cards,
while Cougar Town star Josh Hopkins is a proud member of the BBN.
The Winner: Josh Hopkins. He may have dated gorgeous celebs like Courteney Cox and Erin Andrews, but Lexington native Josh Hopkins makes no secret that his first love is Kentucky basketball. (We'll even forgive him for attending Auburn.) Los Angeles-born Leo looks like a bro who found a cool hat, and the lady beside him is not impressed.
The Supporting Actor Edition
Actor Steve Zahn is a fixture around Lexington, especially at UK games,
while William Fichtner of The Dark Knight showed his U of L loyalty at a recent Derby Party.
The Winner: Steve Zahn all the way. He really put in a touching performance in Dallas Buyers Club, his Treme character is hilarious, and he's married to J. Peterman's daughter. Plus, the Batman dude looks scary.
The Leading Lady Edition
Ashley Judd is perhaps Kentucky's most iconic basketball fan...
while Jennifer Lawrence (Oops... we included her twice, because she's the HerKentucky girls' imaginary BFF, and Hollywood's It Girl) is the Cards' biggest fan.
The Winner: Too close to call. Both are super-fans whom everyone associates with their respective teams. Ashley is the Grande Dame of Kentucky Basketball, but everybody loves Jennifer.
Did we miss anybody? Who's in your Celeb Super-Fan Bracket?
It's only a few hours until the Wildcats take over Nashville, but who's counting? Like Hunter S. Thompson in the above quote, I always believe that Kentucky will go undefeated in March and win everything. This year, we've got a really good chance of doing it.
Whether you're cheering the 'Cats on at home or in NashVegas, here are my picks for most stylish, fun ways to rep the BBN.
Shop Local Kentucky's Seersuckertucky Sweatshirt. I'm just in love with this.
Since you're in the Music City, you need some boots. Seriously, you need an excuse for these.
Letter Raglan from Shop Local KY. This is so classic and old-school.
I honestly never take my Maya Brenner Kentucky necklace off. It's the perfect way to express your Bluegrass pride wherever you go.
Legacy Tee From High Street Fly. Go Cayuts.
These Tory Burch flats are a perfect way to stay cute and comfortable.