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For the most part, Kentucky fans have gotten their wish _ the Wildcats are 18-11 since the annual game started in 1983-84 to go along with seven national titles and 15 Final Four appearances. Louisville has two titles and is making its ninth appearance in the national semifinals.

The histories of the programs highlight their differences in style and their efforts to keep up with each other.

Louisville’s decision to build the $238 million KFC Yum! Center downtown hastened Lexington’s plans for a $150 million renovation of 36-year-old Rupp Arena. And both schools built multimillion dollar practice facilities in the past few years

Louisville signed its first black players in 1962 with a class that included Wade Houston, Eddie Whitehead and Sam Smith with little fanfare and later inked greats like Unseld and Darrell Griffith.

Kentucky was famously slower to integrate.

Rupp’s all-white team lost to Texas Western, which started five black players, in the 1966 NCAA finals popularized by the movie “Glory Road” and didn’t break the color barrier until 1969 when Rupp signed Tom Payne of Louisville who spent a year in Lexington before entering the NBA draft.

When the dunk was reinstated in the college game for the 1976-77 season, Louisville and coach Denny Crum embraced attacking the rim, beginning with Griffith, who earned the moniker “Dr. Dunkenstein.”

Crum won titles in 1980 and ‘86. His high-flying players at Freedom Hall were known as the Doctors of Dunk who helped popularize the high five and helped usher in a new age of college basketball, including a win in The Dream Game in 1983.

Kentucky’s style bordered on a business-like approach under Rupp assistant Joe B. Hall. Hall’s ‘78 squad was so thoroughly expected to win the national title that when they did, it’s remembered as “The Season Without Celebration.” Hall coached through 1985 before Eddie Sutton’s unsuccessful run ended in NCAA violations.

It was Pitino who helped usher Kentucky back to the title path with three Final Four appearances and a championship in 1996.

That group, known as The Untouchables, featured nine NBA players and six first-round picks. Kentucky heads to New Orleans with a team loaded with talent whereas Louisville was a big surprise to get to the Final Four once again. It makes Saturday’s game another historic showdown.

Former Kentucky forward Josh Harrellson summed it up: “I think everybody in the world is going to be watching.”


AP Sports Writers Howard Fendrich, Brian Mahoney and AP freelance writer Ian Harrison contributed.