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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: 4 most intriguing games of 2017-2018 season

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All of these games will be must-watch television.

NCAA Basketball: New Jersey Tech at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

While Big Blue Nation is chomping at the bit for college football to start so we can see Coach Stoops build on last year’s success, it’s never too early to look ahead to basketball season in the Bluegrass.

With the complete non-conference schedule released, there are several storylines that are sure to drive viewership. From Mark Pope bringing his Utah Valley Wolverines to Rupp, to Kentucky battling West Virginia in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, it’s sure to be a fun year.

However, there are 4 games on the schedule that are particularly interesting for a number of reasons. Let’s take a look at the match-ups that will probably get the most press once the season starts.

#4 Kentucky vs. Missouri

Lexington, KY

Date: TBA

The conference schedule has yet to be released, and Missouri is normally the most forgettable game the Wildcats play in conference. However, this year will be different. Thinking back to the buzz around Kentucky vs. LSU when Ben Simmons played for the Tigers, Michael Porter Jr.’s arrival in Missouri will bring some intrigue to an formerly mundane match-up.

The No. 1 prospect in the company will undoubtedly look to show out when he comes to Lexington, playing against many of his friends from the AAU circuit. He also tried really hard to get Kevin Knox to join him in playing for Cuonzo Martin at Mizzou, so that individual match-up may be the most anticipated of the season.

#3 Kentucky vs. Kansas

Chicago, IL

Date: November 14th

Kansas and Kentucky have given the NCAA basketball world classic games in back-to-back seasons, both of which have been won by the Jayhawks. The difference this year will be the venue, which will be a neutral location for the Champions Classic in Chicago, IL.

With Kentucky basically starting with a new roster and Kansas reloading with recruits and a great deal of transfers, this will be a much different game than we have seen in the last two seasons.

Many of Kansas’ best players have gone on to the NBA, but they do have more of a veteran presence than the youthful Wildcats. The production of senior Devonté Graham and transfer Malik Newman will tell the tale in how Kansas can keep up with Kentucky’s massive recruiting class.

#2 Kentucky vs. UCLA

New Orleans Louisiana

Date: December 23rd

Much like the Kansas match-up, this will be the third year in a row that the Wildcats have squared off with the Bruins. Also like the Kentucky-Kansas series, UCLA won the previous two regular season meetings. The difference came in last year’s NCAA tournament when De’Aaron Fox put on a show and eliminated UCLA in the Sweet 16.

The Bruins lost their two top players in TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball. Thankfully for the college basketball world, we will be introduced to LiAngelo Ball at UCLA this season and Big Blue Nation will have the continued opportunity to hate his father, LaVar.

This match-up was very personal in the NCAA tournament, especially for De’Aaron Fox. Will that drama carry over into next season?

#1 Kentucky vs. Louisville

Lexington, KY

Date: December 29th

Boy, oh boy. This will be an interesting one. Coming off of a loss at Louisville last season and the recent announcement of the NCAA sanctions against UL for their prostitution scandal, Rupp Arena will likely not be a very friendly environment. I can only imagine the signs, chants, and verbal assault the Cardinals will receive about strippers, hookers, and vacated championships.

Even with Deng Adel returning to Louisville and Brian Bowen joining the fray, they will be uncharacteristically young. Coach Rick Pitino says this is his best recruiting class ever at Louisville, and is confident in his team moving forward.

But, will a five-game suspension and a vacated tattoo be too much for Rick to overcome? Will Coach Cal improve to 9-1 over Louisville (since their previous win is vacated) after this one?

What games are you most looking forward to this season?