The Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball program has played over 3,000 games against hundreds of opponents, but very few of the 357 current Division 1 schools have beaten Kentucky consistently. In fact, only 14 have a winning record against Kentucky. Here they all are with their stories:
1. Arizona (2-3)
Kentucky and Arizona have locked horns five times, all in big games. The first was in the NIT in 1946—a 77-53 Kentucky win. The second was a one point victory in the Maui Classic Invitational in 1993. Since then Arizona has had an edge on them, taking the 1997 national title in an overtime heartbreaker and winning two other times in nonconference games.
2. UConn (1-4)
Another team that won a championship at Kentucky’s expense. The Huskies lost to Kentucky in a 2009 nonconference game by three, but the other four times, they’ve defeated the Cats (and three times in the NCAA Tournament).
3. Evansville (0-1)
Kentucky hasn’t been ranked #1 in the AP poll since 2016—except for just after the beginning of the 2019-2020 season. They were on top of the world after defeating preseason #1 Michigan State to take the top spot, but only kept that ranking for one week before the Purple Aces came into Rupp Arena and pulled off one of the biggest upsets over Kentucky ever. As embarrassing as it was, Stephen F. Austin did the same thing to #1 Duke a few weeks later in Cameron.
4. Gardner Webb (0-1)
This game is why (a) Kentucky doesn’t play in Thanksgiving tournaments anymore and (b) why the Thanksgiving tournaments don’t have a first round that shrinks the field. Gardner Webb knocked off Kentucky in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic in 2007, advanced to the neutral site part of the event, no fans showed up, and everyone agreed that the event was a fiasco.
5. Georgetown (0-2)
The Hoyas beat Kentucky once in 1922 and once in the Final Four of 1984. Georgetown went on to beat Houston for the national title. Since then they haven’t met.
6. Memphis (0-1)
John Calipari beat the Wildcats while coaching at Memphis in 2006 interestingly enough. It was in the Maui Classic Invitational and they won by 17.
7. Middle Tennessee (0-1)
The Blue Raiders knocked off Kentucky in the 1982 NCAA Tournament first round by six in their only meeting ever.
8. North Carolina (16-25)
This is the big one. UNC is the only blueblood program to more or less dominate Kentucky. Four of these meetings have come in the NCAA Tournament, where the Tar Heels have gone 3-1, the only loss being in 2011 when the Wildcats beat them to reach their first Final Four under Calipari. Ah, memories.... With North Carolina there haven’t been many good memories, but under Calipari they have gone 6-4 against the Tar Heels. It’s amazing how many times they’ve faced them in recent years.
9. Richmond (0-1)
The 2020 season added Richmond to this list unfortunately in the first of many losses for Kentucky last year.
10. San Diego (0-1)
Somehow San Diego played and beat the Wildcats way back when a bunch of decades ago and they haven’t played each other since.
11. Seton Hall (0-2)
Kentucky could’ve made this 1-1 if they played better in overtime after Keldon Johnson’s half-court shot at the buzzer.
12. Southern California
The only team Kentucky is 0-3 against. Go impress your friends.
13. St. Louis (8-9)
Congrats, St. Louis! You are one of only TWO Division 1 programs to have a winning record against Kentucky after playing them six or more times. In fact, you’ve beaten them 8 out of 17 times! How did you do it? I have no idea at all.
14. Texas Western (0-1)
After defeating Duke’s all-white team to advance to the 1966 title game, Kentucky’s all-white team lost to Texas Western’s all-black team. This game has thrown a lot of criticism at UK over the years, yet the same thing probably would’ve happened to Duke if they had played this game. Hopefully there are no hard feelings or grudges between Texas Western (now UTEP) and Kentucky anymore.
There you have it, all 14 D-1 teams that Kentucky has a losing record against. I find it pretty awesome that it’s only 14, but get annoyed also because it would only be twelve if they had just beaten (or never scheduled) Evansville and Richmond. Oh well. Hopefully they add one of these 14 teams to their nonconference schedule this season.
Thanks to bigbluehistory.net for their awesome database that made these records and statistics easily accessible.