Commentary

Sport needs Kentucky-Indiana

Updated: February 13, 2014, 8:27 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I think that people who have known me over the past 35 years understand that when I have a love or passion for something, I get obsessed with it.

Right now, I am so passionate about raising the dollars needed to help beat the dreaded disease of cancer. Until my last breath, I want to raise as much money as possible for pediatric cancer research. No kid should have to go through radiation treatments.

I will fight tooth and nail to raise that money to help youngsters. They belong out on playgrounds, not in hospitals.

If raising money to fight cancer is my No. 1 passion, then college basketball is 1a. I do believe in my heart that rivalries are vital to the success of the sport. I feel so strongly that Kentucky and Indiana, two traditional powers, should meet every season.

My friends, between 1970 and 2012, over a stretch of 43 consecutive seasons, these teams met each season at least once. There were several times they faced off in the NCAA tournament as well. These are among the crème de la crème programs in all of college hoops, and it is a shame that fans, players and media are denied this matchup.

[+] EnlargeCalipari/Crean
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Tom Crean and John Calipari hold the keys to whether Kentucky and Indiana will resume their storied basketball rivalry.

Kentucky leads the series 32-24. The last regular-season meeting was a classic, with Christian Watford hitting the game-winning shot to give the Hoosiers a 73-72 win in December of 2011. The last overall meeting was in the 2012 NCAA tournament, with the Wildcats earning a 102-90 victory.

This rivalry was really special in the 1990s. There was a stretch of five great games in a six-season span:

• 1989-90, at Indianapolis: Indiana 71, Kentucky 69

• 1990-91, at Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana 87, Kentucky 84

• 1991-92, at Indianapolis: Kentucky 76, Indiana 74

• 1992-93, at Louisville, Ky.: Kentucky 81, Indiana 78

• 1994-95, at Louisville: Kentucky 73, Indiana 70

I am asking two great coaches for whom I have the utmost respect, Kentucky's John Calipari and Indiana coach Tom Crean, to have a meeting of the minds. You guys are so respected and admired. You have been so generous and giving to the V Foundation. There is no doubt you each have a heart of gold.

Somewhere along the line, I hope you two can sit together and make this happen. Why? Because it would be great for the fans of Indiana and Kentucky. I can see a sea of red and blue as the passionate fans of the Hoosiers and Wildcats enjoy the renewal of a rivalry.

Think about all of the kids who put on the Indiana and Kentucky uniforms. They have so much pride to put on those jerseys. Let them create more memories they can tell their grandchildren about one day. That is what makes college basketball so special.

These are two programs that are so close to each other geographically. The history is unbelievable. Why should it be over because of two guys not seeing eye to eye on location? Both Calipari and Crean should make this happen.

I have an idea to help motivate them: make part of the proceeds go to the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

Here's another suggestion, based on what the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) spit out: set up a four-year series. Play one game at the campus in Bloomington, one game at Rupp Arena in Lexington on campus, one game at the Hoosier Dome and one game at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.

I know Calipari was upset when some fans acted poorly at the last game in Bloomington. He cannot take it out on everyone. Get added security for the rivalry. I am talking about one trip to Bloomington in the four-year cycle.

You guys can make this happen. I respect both of you, whether this game happens or not. I am getting up there in years, and I want to make sure Indiana and Kentucky meet again before I finish my career.

People in Indiana and Kentucky would love it. The sport would love it. Television would embrace it.

Please work on this. Make it happen, baby!

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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