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People Forget Rick Barnes Owns John Calipari

Tennessee and Kentucky will play the first of their two meetings this season on Saturday in what has to be the most under-appreciated rivalry in college basketball. These two teams have played some great games in recent years and the fanbases are none too kind to one another. I've been to this game in Knoxville and Lexington and it's an awesome atmosphere at both schools.

But this rivalry has been kicked up a notch since Rick Barnes arrived at Tennessee. The Vols were 7-25 vs Kentucky since the turn of the century when Barnes was hired prior to the 2015-16 season. In his first four years, Barnes is 6-4 vs Kentucky and 4-0 at home.

And some of the games UT and UK have produced in thos four years have been all-time classics. Last year's SEC Tournament semifinal is one of the best college basketball games I've ever watched.

And since that game was played in Nashville, that makes Barnes 5-0 vs Calipari in the state of Tennessee. Our neighbors to the north simply do not come into our state and win a basketball game against Rick Barnes — and we aren't about to let it happen on Saturday, either.

It's obviously no secret that this Tennessee team isn't very good. It's probably an NIT team. But those teams Barnes beat Kentucky with in his first couple years were much worse than this one. KenPom currently gives the Vols a 51 percent chance to win this game, with a projected final score of 66-65. It's a toss-up.

Santiago Vescovi isn't as good as Ashton Hagans right now. Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley are probably going to get their buckets, too. We don't know if Josiah-Jordan James will be able to play. But you give me Rick Barnes against John Calipari in Thompson-Boling Arena and I'll take my chances every time.

Go Vols.