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Could the best rivalry in sports be UK and Louisville basketball

CINCINNATI (Brad Underwood) -- Kentucky and Louisville.
They own the last 2 college basketball National Championships.  And they face off Friday night in the Sweet 16.  It's one of the most heated rivalries in the country.  No one has ever written a book about it -- until now.

It's arguably the most anticipated Sweet 16 match up of the tournament.  Cross-state rivals Louisville and Kentucky are preparing for their 47th overall meeting.  The schools are only separated by 80 miles but  for decades rarely played each other.    

Many say it's because Kentucky didn't need to, they were a power house.  Then in 1983, the two met in the NCAA Tournament.

"It was such a good game, everybody loved it so much, it was so crazy. The state government got involved and said y'all need to play.  Immediately after that we had the start of the contemporary rivalry and that's what we have today," Ryan Clark, co-author of "Fightin' Words."

What we have today, Ryan Clark calls the greatest rivalry in college hoops.

"On average year, Kentucky and Louisville play once a season, if we are lucky enough they will play twice.  But they play once a year, Duke North Carolina play three times a year," Clark said.

Since 1983, there have only been three seasons where UK and Louisville didn't play each other.  Clark co-authored the book, "Fightin' Words" with his friend Joe Cox.  Clark says there are so many story lines that prove this rivalry to be the best.  Layers of emotion unmatched by other rivalries.

"What we have now, we have a coach who coached one side and is now on the other side. And you don't see that in something like Duke you don't see Coach K coaching the Tar Heels, that doesn't happen.  I think now, especially when they met up in the Final Four,  that was it for us, that was the moment we decide we have to do this," Clark said.

But they couldn't get it published.  Sure everyone knows about UK.  Eight national titles and a perennial contender for the national championship.  But Louisville's success apparently wasn't as widely known even though they won two titles in the 80's.

Clark is life-long UK fan but says the book isn't a biased fan book, but more of a history book documenting most of the games played since 1983.  There are box scores and photos, plus interviews with former players and coaches.

He tells us, "In 1983 we had a game that lived up to the hype, in 2012 we had a game that lived up to the hype, it was a really good game. I hope we have that, Friday night."

The authors will be in Indianapolis before Friday's game marketing the book.  In April the pair will hold a discussion about the book in Crestview Hills.

Follow Brad Underwood on Twitter @BUnderwoodWKRC and LIKE him on Facebook

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