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Kentucky Basketball: A Look at the SEC Portion of the Schedule

Yesterday, the SEC provided us with a final version of the college basketball schedule for next year. Kentucky's 2012-13 schedule is now complete. Let's have a look:

SEC Conference Schedule 2013
01/10/13 at Vanderbilt * TV Nashville, Tenn. 9:00 p.m. ET
01/12/13 vs. Texas A&M * TV Lexington, Ky. 4:00 p.m. ET
01/15/13 vs. Tennessee * TV Lexington, Ky. 7:00 p.m. ET
01/19/13 at Auburn * TV Auburn, Ala. TBA
01/22/13 at Alabama * TV Tuscaloosa, Ala. 9:00 p.m. ET
01/26/13 vs. LSU * TV Lexington, Ky. 4:00 p.m. ET
01/29/13 at Ole Miss * TV Oxford, Miss. 9:00 p.m. ET
02/02/13 at Texas A&M * TV College Station, Texas 6:00 p.m. ET
02/05/13 vs. South Carolina * TV Lexington, Ky. 9:00 p.m. ET
02/09/13 vs. Auburn * TV Lexington, Ky. 4:00 p.m. ET
02/12/13 at Florida * TV Gainesville, Fla. 7:00 p.m. ET
02/16/13 at Tennessee * TV Knoxville, Tenn. 1:00 p.m. ET
02/20/13 vs. Vanderbilt * TV Lexington, Ky. 8:00 p.m. ET
ESPN College GameDay
02/23/13 vs. Missouri * TV Lexington, Ky. 9:00 p.m. ET
02/27/13 vs. Mississippi State * TV Lexington, Ky. 8:00 p.m. ET
03/02/13 at Arkansas * TV Fayetteville, Ark. 4:00 p.m. ET
03/07/13 at Georgia * TV Athens, Ga. 7:00 p.m. ET
03/09/13 vs. Florida * TV Lexington, Ky. 12:00 p.m. ET

What I really like about this schedule is the fact that we start off league play with one of the new members of the SEC. This will be a huge TV game for Kentucky, and will truly welcome Texas A&M to the SEC in the most dramatic possible way. No matter what the outcome, TAMU basketball fans will be in for a treat, and they have some bragging rights to bring in -- their last game against UK was a victory over then #11 UK in the UKIT way back in 1978. This will be the first game between the Aggies and the Wildcats in a remarkable 35 years.

So what are the other big games on this schedule that UK fans should really look forward to? Here's my list:

@ Alabama Crimson Tide, January 22nd - This is Anthony Grant's third year, and Grant brings back a very talented group from last year absent JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. Grant adds Rivals 5-star wing forward Devonta Pollard, ranked #22 in the country, to join the talented Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph and Andrew Steele. This should be a very interesting road game for the Wildcats, and a big test of their strength.

@Texas A&M Aggies on February 2nd - This will be the very first trip for Kentucky to College Station, and it is the longest road trip a Wildcats team has made in the SEC season.

@ Florida Gators on February 2nd - Every Florida game is on my radar, and Billy Donovan continues his outstanding recruiting in Gainesville. Even though Florida loses a ton of talent this year in Bradley Beal and Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton and Patric Young both return, along with starter Erik Murphy and quality bench players Mike Rosario, Scottie Wilbekin, and Will Yeguete. Florida will be experienced, deep, and dangerous, particularly at home.

@ Tennessee Volunteers on February 16th - Kentucky will be coming straight from Gainesville to Knoxville, and a tougher road trip is hard to imagine. In his second year, I expect Couonzo Martin to have a very dangerous team, including Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon. Trae Golden and Kenny Hall also figure to be a big help.

Vs. Missouri Tigers on February 23rd - ESPN College Gameday comes to Rupp Arena for the first meeting between Missouri and Kentucky since December 30th of 1999. The Wildcats have an unblemished record in four tries against the Tigers, but Frank Haith has proven that he can build a winning program. Missouri was decimated by graduation, losing nine seniors from last year's team. However, exciting guard Phil Pressey join forwards Kadeem Green (oops, he transfered) Alex Oriakhi and Andy Rosburg, two quality bench players, to form the core of what should be a dangerous team. Add in the excitement of College Gameday, and this is an event that everyone will be watching.

@ Arkansas Razorbacks on March 2nd - Sophomore B.J. Young leads this talented Razorbacks bunch into head coach Mike Anderson's second year as an SEC coach. Junior guard and second leading scorer Mardracus Wade, sophomore big man Hunter Mickelson, and the talented but oft-injured Marshawn Powell form the core of a team that could be set to contend for the SEC championship.

Vs. Florida Gators on March 9th - If the SEC race is close, this game could be the difference between a regular-season championship and also-ran status for one of these teams. It could also set up the NCAA tournament for either of them to provide a path to a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Those are the games that stand out to me as the most interesting. What are your thoughts?