The campaign was scrambling Tuesday morning to remove an online video that features a split-second clip of Duke basketball players celebrating their 2010 national championship.
The mistake comes as the basketball-crazy state of Kentucky prepares for the biggest game of the year. Kentucky and Louisville face off in the Sweet 16 on Friday night.
"The ad was intended to highlight Kentucky's basketball dominance and obviously the web ad vendor has become so accustomed to watching national championship celebrations in the bluegrass state that they made a mistake with one of the images," McConnell spokesman Allison Moore, a Kentucky graduate, said. "Obviously we were horrified by the error and quickly changed it."
Duke's narrow 1992 win over Kentucky in a regional final of the NCAA Tournament remains a sore spot for many Kentucky fans, and the Blue Devils are still a frequent target for their animosity.
A spokeswoman for Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell's likely Democratic opponent, quipped that McConnell has "been in Washington so long that he doesn't know the difference between Duke and UK."
Of course, Grimes has already miffed fans by picking Wichita State to beat Kentucky in her tournament bracket. Kentucky won that game 78-76. And she picked Louisville, the state's other top program, to lose to Florida in the championship game.