UK Basketball 2020-21: Big Name Opponents Are Lining Up to Face the Wildcats
In the weird, wild, wonderful of college basketball in the COVID-19 era, hardcore fans like yours truly are just going to have to be patient as we await the filling of schedules across the country.
I've been checking back periodically, Googling "UK basketball" to see how things are shaping up for the Wildcats for 2020-2021. The most recent additions were schools we already THOUGHT Kentucky was going to play, but we weren't sure how or when the season was going to begin due to the pandemic.
It was originally set to kick off November 11th with the annual Champions Classic. For nearly a decade, Kentucky has joined fellow blue-blood powerhouse programs Duke, Kansas, and Michigan State for a two-game event PERFECT for the start of a college hoops season. But then the pandemic stretched into the fall, and we began to wonder when or if the event would happen--especially after it was announced that the season's opening had been pushed back to Wednesday, November 25th.
Happily, we have our answer. The Champions Classic will take place December 1st in Orlando with Kentucky facing Kansas and Duke taking on Michigan State.
On December 6th, the 'Cats will be in Atlanta for an event called Holiday Hoopsgiving and they will take on the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets. Clearly, this was scheduled for the Thanksgving weekend, but adjustments had to be made
Kentucky beat Tech last December 67-53.
Saturday, December 19th, UK heads to Cleveland for the seventh annual CBS Sports Classic to take on UCLA. The other match-up will feature North Carolina against Ohio State. This four-team event has been an interesting one for Kentucky. In the last six seasons, UK has had a different record against each team. The 'Cats are 2-0 against Carolina, 1-1 against the Bruins (the win was a 39-point beatdown in the initial event in 2014, in which Kentucky led 41-7 at halftime), and 0-2 against the Buckeyes.
Fast forward to January 30th, 2021 and we'll find all ten Big 12 teams taking on 10 of 14 SEC teams in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. I've looked at the list of pairings and honestly, biases aside, Kentucky vs. Texas just looks like THE tasty matchup here. The Longhorns last faced the 'Cats during this same event six years ago. Kentucky's 63-51 victory was part of that historic 38-game winning streak that ended in the 2015 Final Four.
But back to this game. ESPN recently updated its "Way-Too-Early Top 25" for 2020-2021 and pushed Kentucky from #12 all the way to #5 because of the addition of Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr and Rhode Island transfer Jacob Toppin to the line-up after both were granted waivers and allowed to play immediately. Texas is also ranked in the Worldwide Leader's early top 20.
And, of course, the other marquee opponent is Louisville, but that annual rivalry tilt has yet to have a date attached to it.
It's colder outside. November is right around the corner. And even though we're going to have to wait just a little longer, college hoops is now within sight.