Mark Story: Give UK athletics the edge over U of L in 2010-11

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistJune 19, 2011 

Mark Story

Kentucky or Louisville: Which athletics department had a better all-around year in 2010-11?

If you look at the Director's Cup standings — a points system designed to rank the all-around success of college athletics departments — the answer is, narrowly, Louisville.

With final baseball results still to be tabulated, Louisville stands 32nd in the Director's Cup and Kentucky is 35th. Since both UK and U of L missed the NCAA baseball tournament, neither can gain points in the final standings.

In all sports other than football, The Director's Cup is based on how a school's teams perform in NCAA tournaments only. Which means head-to-head results, conference titles etc. ... don't count.

I would argue that in the ways that matter most to sports fans in the commonwealth, UK got the better of U of L in 2010-11.

Football

Kentucky: The Cats beat Louisville head-to-head in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. UK had the single best football win of 2010 by a commonwealth school when it upset No. 10 South Carolina. On the debit side, Joker Phillips' Cats lost a minor bowl and, at 6-7, finished with a losing record.

Louisville: Charlie Strong's first year featured a victory over eventual Big East champion Connecticut and a minor-bowl win over Southern Mississippi that gave the Cards a 7-6 finish.

Advantage: UK (head-to-head win and a top-10 victory trumps U of L's minor-bowl win and 7-6 record).

Men's basketball

Kentucky: Beat U of L decisively (78-63) in the first Cats-Cards men's game ever in the KFC Yum Center. UK (29-9) won the SEC Tournament and ended a 12-year Final Four drought by reaching the NCAA Tournament semifinals.

Louisville: After starting with low expectations, had a feel-good season (25-10) that ended with a shocking first-round NCAA tourney upset loss to Morehead State.

Advantage: UK.

Baseball

Kentucky: Had a disappointing year (25-30, 8-22 SEC) but swept Louisville in two games.

Louisville: Also failed to play up to expectations, but did at least finish with a winning record (32-29, 14-13 Big East).

Advantage: UK (regular-season sweep over U of L's winning record).

Men's soccer

Kentucky: Lost to Louisville (2-0) in Lexington en route to a 7-8-4 season that included no NCAA Tournament play.

Louisville: Did not lose (20-1-3) until the national championship game, when the Cards lost a 1-nil heartbreaker to Akron.

Advantage: U of L.

Men's tennis

Kentucky: Beat Louisville (4-3) in the NCAA Tournament round of 32 on the way to the quarterfinals. Finished with a school-record 29 wins (29-9).

Louisville: Went undefeated at home (11-0; 18-12 overall) and beat Cornell in NCAA Tourney round of 64.

Advantage: UK.

Women's basketball

Kentucky: Finished second in both the SEC regular season (25-9, 11-5) and tournament. As a No. 4 seed, lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Louisville: Did not have as good an overall record (22-13), but absolutely crushed UK head-to-head (78-52) and went farther (the NCAA round of 16) in the Big Dance.

Advantage: U of L.

Softball

Kentucky: Best season in school history (40-16) included first-ever trip to NCAA Tournament super-regional, but only a two-game regular-season split with U of L.

Louisville: Went 38-20 and lost in NCAA Tourney regional to same California team that eliminated UK in the super-regional.

Advantage: UK.

Volleyball

Kentucky: Had lost nine in a row to U of L and 19 of the last 20 before scoring a five-set victory over the Cards in 2010. Went on to finish 17-14 and made NCAA Tourney first-round exit.

Louisville: Went 23-8 (12-2 Big East) and lost in NCAA Tournament second round to same Purdue team that ousted UK.

Advantage: Even (U of L better season; UK streak-busting head-to-head win).

Highlights of other sports

Kentucky: Won our state's only 2010-11 NCAA team championship in the coed sport of rifle (Louisville does not have a rifle team). UK (28th) finished ahead of U of L (40th) in the women's swimming NCAA championships.

Louisville: Beat UK head-to-head in men's swimming, women's swimming and women's soccer. Finished ahead of Kentucky in NCAA post-season competition in men's swimming (17th, best finish in school history); men's cross country (28th in nation); men's golf (fifth in NCAA regional tourney, UK 21st); and women's track and field (both indoor and outdoor).

Advantage: Even (UK's rifle national title offset by U of L successes in a greater depth of sports).

Overall

Advantage: By a score of 5-2-2, I'm giving UK state bragging rights for 2010-11.

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com.

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