The Kentucky Wildcats have finalized their 201819 non-conference schedule, as they will play a number of high-profile games, as is usually the case with the team in the John Calipari era.
Before the regular season begins, Kentucky will have four preseason warm ups, including Big Blue Madness (Oct. 12), the Blue-White Game (Oct. 21), and the exhibition games vs. Transylvania (Oct. 26) and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Nov. 2).
The regular season will tip off with a heavyweight clash between Kentucky and the Duke Blue Devils. The Blue Devils bring in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, which prominently features R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish. With Mike Krzyzewski topping Calipari in recruiting rankings, it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top in the one-and-done coaching battle.
“This could be the most difficult schedule we’ve played in my time here,” UK head coach John Calipari said in a press release. “The only teams we left off were the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I will say this: For as tough as our schedule is going to be, I believe we have the type of team and kids to play it. Our goal in creating a schedule every season is to test our team while creating opportunities to learn and grow. This one will have more than its fair share of challenges, but my hope is that be season’s end, as we enter the tournament, we are prepared to play anyone and face anything a team tries to throw at us.”
Following that, the Wildcats will play Southern Illinois on Nov. 9 to open the home season and then follow with four more home games as a part of the Ohio Valley Hardwood Showcase. Those games will be Nov. 14 vs. North Dakota, Nov. 18 vs. VMI, Nov. 21 vs. Winthrop and Nov. 23 vs. Tennessee State.
The Wildcats will continue their series with Monmouth in Rupp Arena, followed by a game against North Carolina-Greensboro, also in Rupp Arena.
Kentucky will then head to New York for the Citi Hoops Classic, in which they’ll play Seton Hall in Madison Square Garden.
Then comes another slate of Power 5 opponents, as Kentucky will play the Utah Utes in Rupp Arena before taking on another heavyweight in a neutral-site game.
That will be the North Carolina Tar Heels in the annual CBS Sports Classic, which will be held in Chicago this year.
One week later, the Cats hit the road to face the Louisville Cardinals in the annual in-state rivalry affair.
Later in January is the Big 12/SEC Challenge, pitting UK against the Kansas Jayhawks in Rupp Arena, the final non-conference game on the schedule.
All in all, seven of these non-conference opponents made a postseason tournament in 2018, five of which were the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas, Duke and North Carolina are currently projected as preseason top-10 teams, while Utah, Seton Hall and Louisville will be strongly in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid.
The Wildcats have quite the test ahead of them before even getting to SEC play this season, but this non-conference slate features many of the same opponents as UK sees on an annual basis, as Calipari’s schedule mostly consists of annual series matchups.