After the NBA Draft declarations of the newest batch of Draft Cats and the commitment of Nerlens Noel, we have a good idea of what our roster will look like in the 2012-13 season. With the roster being nearly complete, let’s take a look at a new uncertainty going forward into 2012-13: the non-conference schedule.
Here are the marquee games we know we can look forward to in 2012:
Maryland: UK will open up Brooklyn’s new NBA arena, the Barclays Center, in a doubleheader on Friday, November 9th. Morehead State will actually play the first ever game in the arena against LIU-Brooklyn, and UK will face off against Maryland in the second game of the doubleheader.
Duke: Catlanta will be rockin in the Georgia Dome for the second edition of the Champions Classic as UK will face Duke and Michigan State will play Kansas in the other game of the doubleheader. Hopefully, this will be the first of two visits to the Georgia Dome for the Cats next year.
Louisville: L1Cya on New Years Eve at the Yum Center, in what will most likely be a clash of two top five teams.
And here are where things get fuzzy:
North Carolina: Don’t expect the Cats to face the Tar Heels next season. A source told KSR last November that both schools prefer to end the series, at least temporarily, after the addition of new schools in both the SEC and ACC conference schedule. If North Carolina is dropped as expected, Kentucky could end up playing a home and home or neutral site series with a number of other teams. According to the source, Kansas, Texas, West Virginia and Arizona would be the most likely candidates.
Indiana: After a memorable two games between the two schools last season, the Kentucky-Indiana rivalry is now in jeopardy. A source told KSR last December that Kentucky is interested in renewing the series and returning it to its neutral site format: a rotation between games in Indianapolis and Louisville. Unless Tom Jurich stops being a grinch, and actually allows this game to be played in the Yum Center every other year, I would expect these games to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium and Freedom Hall, if the deal is worked out. Indiana’s interest in renewing the series is up in the air. Tom Crean recently told ESPN.com that the Hoosiers may add Kansas to their schedule, and if they do, they won’t be playing Kentucky.
SEC/Big East Challenge: We know we’ll be playing somebody in the SEC/Big East Challenge, but the question remains, who will it be? If I could make a pick, and I am only speculating, I’d say there’s a good chance it could be Cincinnati. The Bearcats were on the road last year in the Challenge against Georgia and the Cats were at home vs. St. Johns, so UC is due a home game and UK is due to play on the road. Folks up in Northern Kentucky have been salivating for this game to happen, and although it will never be an annual match-up, it’s bound to happen sometime in the SEC/Big East Challenge. UC and their fans would absolutely kill for a home game against Kentucky, and Northern Kentucky UK fans would love a chance to see the Cats in Cincy. For the team, the short bus trip to Cincy is more appealing than making a flight to
somewhere in the northeast one of the random geographical Big East locations throughout the country.