Now, Mr. Calipari, your tenure at Kentucky truly gets started. Starting tomorrow–or, preferably, right this instant–preparation for your showdown this Saturday begins. Don’t get me wrong, the wins against UNC, UConn, and Indiana were nice–we’ll take them every time. But–and this is one extremely important But that you would be wise to give all your attention–each and every one of those wins will immediately become vaporized if you don’t beat Louisville. Don’t believe it? Ask Tubby Smith. His ’97-’98 team won the National Championship and people still haven’t forgiven him for losing to Louisville that year. Trust me, there’s no better way to make your Clintonian approval levels suddenly become Bush-like than to lose your game this Saturday. For all intents and purposes, this Saturday is your National Championship. It is the Commonwealth Championship; it happens every year, and the stakes are always the same: Everything. UK hates U of L, and as much as you’d like to pretend otherwise, you hate Rick Pitino. Don’t feel bad about it–he hates you too. Both of you know it, and that’s why this game is special again. That’s why this game is, now that you’re here (and he’s there), the biggest rivalry game in all of college basketball–but more on that later in the week.
Until then, here’s SI’s attempt at explaining the Pitino-Calipari rivalry, written just after the Calipari hiring.