Image Credit: UK Wildcats Blog
Even if you aren’t a fan of the Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball team, it’s likely you’ll still have an eye on the 8-time National Champions during ESPN3’s coverage of Midnight Madness Friday. The 2012 NCAA Tournament Champions lost all five of their starters to the NBA, but as always John Calipari has reloaded by adding one the country’s top recruiting classes (the Sporting News has Kentucky as pre-season #4). Unfortunately for the Cats, their No. 1 recruit Nerlens Noel has yet to be cleared by the NCAA and may not partake in Big Blue Madness, but other fresh faces including Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin should give students in attendance a good show.
Kentucky was not the pioneer of the annual ritual; we must thank “The Father of Midnight Madness” Lefty Driesell for that. However, the Wildcats have actively contributed to the traditions of Midnight Madness as far back as the early 80’s by creating a game-day-like atmosphere for a crowd-full of students for what they called “Midnight Special.” According to NBC Sports, in 2006 Kentucky drew 23,312 fans to Rupp Arena, breaking a national record for spectators at a practice.
It’s no surprise that Kentucky students and fans turn up to the first official practice in such substantial numbers. Kentucky Wildcats tickets are currently averaging the highest ticket price of any Men’s Basketball team in the country at $219, 27 percent higher than the next highest average in Kansas at $172. In fact, UK touts a higher ticket average than every NBA team except the Los Angeles Lakers ($288) and New York Knicks ($256). Perhaps we can attribute the excitement for the Wildcats to the fact that there is not an NBA team in the state. This so called madness will undoubtedly continue through March in Lexington.
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