The 2020-21 college basketball season is right around the corner, and a lot of college basketball teams have been releasing their schedules.
Now, the Kentucky Wildcats have done so as well, as the school revealed its full schedule Friday, and as usual, it’s loaded.
Normally Kentucky would play roughly 12 non-conference games, but due to the season starting later with coronavirus, the Cats will be playing nine non-conference games, many of which are against teams either in Power 5 leagues and/or are preseason top-25 clubs.
As for SEC play, the Cats will play a normal 18-game schedule. Kentucky’s permanent home-and-away opponents in the league include Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. This upcoming season, the Wildcats will also play Alabama and Auburn twice in the regular season.
Kentucky’s 2020-21 opponents combined to go 399-286 last season, a .582 winning percentage. Eight of the Wildcats’ 22 total opponents ranked in the top 50 of the NCAA Evaluation Tool.
In addition, Kentucky announced its plans for fan attendance at games this season at Rupp Arena and Memorial Coliseum, which will be limited to 15% of normal arena capacity. All plans are subject to change based on evolving information as well as local, state and national public health developments.
Here is how the non-conference schedule looks for the Wildcats, starting the season with their own MTE in Lexington.
November 25- Morehead State Eagles
This was originally supposed to be a matchup with Hartford, but some scheduling changes were recently made resulting in a matchup with the Eagles. Morehead State head coach Preston Spradlin has ties to Kentucky as well as he was a graduate assistant under John Calipari from 2009-2011 and was the director of basketball operations from 2011 to 2014.
November 27- Detroit-Mercy Titans
There is no surprise that this game is on the schedule considering Coach Cal’s son and former Wildcat Brad Calipari plays for the Titans. While the Cats will be a heavy favorite in the matchup, this will be a fun one to see with Brad returning to Rupp.
November 29- Richmond Spiders
The Spiders were going to be a top 15-20 team when they made the trip to Rupp Arena but unfortunately, they lost guard Nick Sherod to an ACL tear and he will miss the season. However, they will still be a very solid team to test this young group of Wildcats and should be just inside the first top-25 polls when they come out.
December 1- Kansas Jayhawks
The Cats and the Jayhawks will meet in the 2020 Champions Classic that is being played in Indianapolis. Kansas is going to be a preseason top 10 team and are returning Naismith Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Garrett. However, they will have to replace their key big man in Udoka Azubuike.
December 6- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Kentucky and Georgia Tech played in Rupp Arena a year ago and this is the other matchup that the two teams agreed on. This will take place as part of the Holiday Hoopsgiving event in Atlanta.
December 12- Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame is usually a very solid team but seeing that they have been down in recent years and brought in the 70th ranked recruiting class, I would expect this one to favor the Cats when the two face off in Rupp Arena.
December 19- UCLA Bruins
The Bruins were one of the hottest teams in the country during the last month last season. They will be returning Chris Smith and Tyger Campbell making them a real offensive threat on the perimeter. I would expect them to be in the top 25 when Kentucky meets them in the CBS Sports Classic, which will be played in Cleveland.
December 26- @ Louisville Cardinals
This game is going to have the fans engaged even more than usual considering all the drama we have seen with Chris Mack over scheduling this game. However, Louisville is could be in a down year suffering from a poor recruiting class and potential NCAA penalties still to come.
January 30- Texas Longhorns
The Cats will be at home for this year’s SEC/BIG12 Challenge after making the trip to face Texas Tech a year ago. This will be the first matchup with the Longhorns since 2015 in Rupp Arena. Texas should be a top 25 team with a chance to compete for the BIG12 title after bringing in Greg Brown who many hoped would end up a UK. Brown is the highest-touted recruit that Shaka Smart has landed as the coach at Texas.
Notable SEC Games
December 29 - South Carolina Gamecocks
This will be the 2020-21 SEC opener for the Wildcats. it will be against a South Carolina team that does return a lot of firepower from last year but is projected to finish in the bottom half of the league. This will be a good warm-up game to kick off league play.
January 9 - at Florida Gators
This will be the Cats’ first major test of conference play as they travel to Florida and face what could be a top-25 Gators squad, led by SEC player of the Year candidate Keyontae Johnson.
January 16 - at Auburn Tigers
In each of the last three seasons, Auburn either won the SEC regular-season crown or was right in the middle of the race going into the final weeks. Last season, Kentucky beat the Tigers in the second-to-last week in what was essentially an SEC Championship Game. This year, the Tigers are in more of a transition phase, but they’ll still be a big challenge for the Cats.
February 8 - Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee and Kentucky figure to be major contenders not only in the race for the SEC but also nationally, as both are projected as preseason top-15 teams that could be competing for a spot in the Final Four. The first round of this rivalry comes at Rupp on February 8, followed by the trip to Knoxville on February 20.
February 27 - Florida Gators
This year, Senior Day will be one of the biggest games on Kentucky’s schedule as Round 2 vs. the Gators takes place that night. This will likely be the final game in Rupp for Olivier Sarr, Davion Mintz, Brandon Boston Jr. and Terrence Clarke.
March 2 - at Ole Miss Rebels
The Cats conclude regular-season SEC play with a trip to Oxford against what should be a dangerous Ole Miss team. Since Kermit Davis took over two seasons ago, each of the last two matchups with the Rebels have come down to the final minute.
College basketball is almost here and once again the Kentucky Wildcats are going to have one of the best teams in the country and have a real shot at winning their 9th National Championship.
But as always, no matter what happens, enjoy the journey.