Does Kentucky football or basketball need win more on Dec. 29?
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Longtime reader Burke Garner asks: Who needs the W more on Friday? The football or basketball team?
Kentucky basketball, coming off a surprise loss to UCLA and severely lacking quality nonconference wins on its NCAA Tournament résumé, hosts rival Louisville at 1 p.m. ET Friday. The Wildcats football team, which lost four of six to close the regular season and got blown out in its last two games, plays No. 20 Northwestern in the Music City Bowl at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Which is to say: Both really need wins on Friday. And I wrote last week that two wins feels more likely than two losses — but a split seems more likely. If only one team can win, who needs it most?
I’ll go with football. Because this is probably going to be a turbulent, just-try-to-save-it-by-March kind of season for John Calipari and the basketball team regardless. Losing to an underwhelming U of L team with an interim coach would not be good, but it wouldn’t do long-term damage.
Mark Stoops, however, is fighting to keep football fans excited and believing in him. Consecutive 7-5 regular seasons and bowl berths represent progress for a program that went 4-20 combined in 2011 and 2012, but the schedule set up for the Wildcats to win nine games and end the three-decade losing streak against Florida this season and that didn’t happen.
Ticket sales and attendance indicate the fan base is still lukewarm on Stoops and he needs to leave them with a positive memory of this season to maintain interest heading into 2018. Beating a ranked Big Ten team that’s riding a seven-game winning streak — which would give UK eight wins for the first time in a decade — would surely quiet some of the doubters and send the Cats into their offseason with momentum.
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