It won't be long before the 2016-17 college basketball season tips off, and the Kentucky Wildcats are expected to have another Final Four-contending squad under John Calipari.
As has been the case for much of Cal's tenure in Lexington, the Cats will have a loaded non-conference schedule that features many of the nation's best hoops programs. UK unveiled their entire 2016-17 non-conference schedule on Monday, and it's absolutely loaded.
The 2016-17 season begins Oct. 14 with the annual Big Blue Madness event, which is used to introduce the newest group of Wildcats on both the men's and women's side. Madness will begin at 7 p.m. in Rupp Arena and will air on the SEC Network.
Following that will be the annual Blue-White Scrimmage on Oct. 21. at 7 p.m. Then comes two exhibition affairs against Clarion University (October 30th, 7 PM) and Asbury (November 6th, 7 PM).
One of the big highlights of the 2016-17 non-conference schedule is vs Michigan State in the Champions Classic on Nov. 15th. Watching these two blue-blood programs clash will be fun to watch, and it will occur at one of biggest venues in Madison Square Garden.
The next big game for UK will be in the Bahamas against Arizona State University on Nov. 28th. The Suns Devils aren't exactly a powerhouse in college hoops, but Bobby Hurley's squad should have enough firepower to push the Cats if they don't come ready to play in this neutral-site affair.
Next up comes one of the premier matchups in college hoops as Kentucky takes on UCLA at Rupp Arena on Dec. 3rd. The Cats will be seeking revenge from last season when the Bruins handed them a 10-point loss at Pauley Pavilion.
Following UCLA will be a date with Valparaiso at home, followed by Hofstra at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn on Dec. 11th. These should be tune-up game that serves as a break from UK's tough non-conference schedule.
Next will be another blue-blooded clash as UK takes on North Carolina on December 17th in Las Vegas. These are the two premier programs in college hoops when it comes to tradition and long-term success, as both programs have been at or near the top of the sport for much of the past seven decades.
The next big game comes when the Cats will take on Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville on Dec. 21st. The Louisville basketball program is in quite a bit of hot water right now, but even if they are looking at more NCAA sanctions, Rick Pitino will have his team bring their A+ game against his former school.
Perhaps Kentucky's biggest non-conference opponent is Kansas. The Jayhawks are ranked in most polls as a top-three preseason team with some having KU as high as No. 3, so this could end up being a top-five matchup by the time it rolls around January 28.
In summary, it's clear this is yet another tough non-conference schedule will be sure to provide Kentucky with plenty of tests throughout the season. While the SEC may continue to lack the kind of contenders that will push UK night in and night out, Calipari has more than made up for it with how loaded the non-conference portion is.
With these newest announcements, here is the 2016-17 Kentucky basketball non-conference schedule:
Oct. 14: Big Blue Madness, Rupp Arena, Lexington, SEC Network
Oct. 21: Blue-White Game, Rupp Arena, Lexington, SEC Network
Oct. 30: Clarion, Rupp Arena, Lexington (EXHIBITION), SEC Network
Nov. 6: Asbury, Rupp Arena, Lexington (EXHIBITION), SEC Network
Nov. 11: Stephen F. Austin, Rupp Arena, Lexington (REGULAR-SEASON OPENER), ESPN Network
Nov. 13: Canisius, Rupp Arena, Lexington, ESPN Network
Nov. 15: Michigan State, Madison Square Garden, New York (CHAMPIONS CLASSIC), ESPN
Nov. 20: Duquesne, Rupp Arena, Lexington, ESPN Network
Nov. 23: Cleveland State, Rupp Arena, Lexington, ESPN Network
Nov. 25: UT-Martin, Rupp Arena, Lexington, ESPN Network
Nov. 28: Kentucky vs. Arizona State, Atlantis, Bahamas, ESPN Network
Dec.3: Kentucky vs. UCLA, Rupp Arena, Lexington, CBS or ESPN Network
Dec. 7: Valparaiso, Rupp Arena, Lexington, ESPN Network
Dec. 11: Kentucky vs. Hofstra, Barclays Center, New York City, Fox Sports Network
Dec.17: Kentucky vs. North Carolina, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas (CBS SPORTS CLASSIC), CBS
Dec. 21: Kentucky vs. Louisville, Yum! Center, Louisville, ESPN Network
Jan. 28: Kentucky vs. Kansas, Rupp Arena, Lexington, ESPN