North Carolina, number three in the all-time college basketball wins category, is playing Kentucky, number one in all-time wins as I write this post today. I can't help but be struck by the linkage of the traditions of these two schools and that of my alma mater, the University of Kansas. And, in full disclosure (given my lack of objectivity here), this is one of the arguments I use when debating which school, of the three, has the best basketball tradition.
- Today's game is being played at Rupp Arena, named after Kentucky's iconic coach--a University of Kansas graduate and player under KU's legendary coach, Phog Allen.
- Kentucky's current coach, John Calipari, was an assistant coach at Kansas in 1984-85.
- North Carolina plays their games in the Smith Center, named after Dean Smith, North Carolina's iconic coach--also a Kansas graduate and player under Allen.
- North Carolina's coach, Roy Williams, as all well know, spent 15 years at KU where he crafted a 418-101 (.805) record and took KU to four Final Fours and two national championship games.
So, when it comes to basketball tradition, I offer up those facts as a bit of grounding on which of these three blue bloods is first in that category. Combine the above with the fact that James Naismith, who invented the game, was Kansas' first coach and no school matches KU in the tradition of its program and its impact on the game of college basketball.