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Is UK/UL the Best Non-Con Basketball Game This Season?

Wildcat in UNC blue? 2/10.

I think we’ve known for a while that the loathing engendered by the I-64 rivalry has at least caught, and at most far surpassed that on Tobacco Road.  While UNC and Duke fans dislike, even hate each other, they don’t have old people getting in fist fights the week of their games.  At least, none that have made national news.  Plus, those two are in the same conference, so they don’t get to be included in any list of “best non-conference games” anyway.

But with the Bluegrass Bloodbath getting more and more attention every year, it’s no surprise that Mike Huguenin of has decided that the December iteration of the rivalry is next season’s most anticipated non-con game.

1. Kentucky at Louisville, Dec. 29

Buzz: As if the in-state bragging rights weren’t enough, this one could be for No. 1 in the polls. Truthfully, the polls don’t mean anything. But those in-state bragging rights? They’re the gift that keeps annoying your neighbor for 364 days. The sniping from the coaches in the week before the game will make this even more fun.

I think he’s a little confused as to the bragging rights, though.  Even if Louisville wins that game (it’ll be Calipari’s first loss to Pitino while at UK), I think this past season’s Final Four game, and subsequent championship, have given us those rights for at least a good five years.  But still, he’s correct in saying that the number one spot could be on the line.  Sure, the rankings “don’t mean anything,” but we love seeing “1 Kentucky” on the scoreboard during games.  It makes everything feel right in the world.

The circumstances are actually fairly similar to this past season’s matchup with North Carolina, where both teams were expected to be 1 and 2 heading into the game.  The hype for that game was unreal, even though UNC faltered a bit and cost the papers that headline.  Imagine what it would be like to recreate that scenario, but replace the Tarheels with the filthy cards.  While it wouldn’t match the Final Four game in intensity (nothing for the next decade will, most likely), it would certainly be something to get excited about in December.

But, for all the talk about the “weakened” non-conference schedule this year, with UNC and Indiana not in their accustomed spots, Huguenin includes two other UK games in the top-12 list.

4. Duke vs. Kentucky in Atlanta, Nov. 13

Buzz: Admit it — any time these teams get together on a basketball court, it’s a must-watch game. Even if this doesn’t seem as if it will be a vintage Duke team, the Blue Devils should have enough firepower to make things interesting. Plus, this is early enough in the season that it’s possible UK players still will be getting acclimated to each other.

8. Kentucky at Notre Dame, Nov. 29

Buzz: Kentucky isn’t playing Indiana this season, so this game against a different Indiana-based school will have to suffice. Winning at Notre Dame isn’t easy, and the Irish — who lose only one key player — are a talented bunch sure to get physical with the Wildcats.

The Duke matchup isn’t surprising, as it revives every basketball ghost that ever cared to haunt UK fans.  That the Notre Dame game is on the list is a bit surprising.  Mike Brey is a good coach with good teams, but I’ve not known the Irish to be a powerhouse in recent years.  If anything, I was expecting to see UK/Baylor in that #8 slot.  And personally, I’m very excited to see Marshall come to Rupp, so that I can invite some of my friends in Huntington to come over and see their team get whipped in person.

Regardless, Kentucky’s 3 “must see” non-conference games are tied with North Carolina for most in the nation.  Indiana and Louisville have one apiece, and each with either the Tarheels or Wildcats.  So, as some of us might bemoan the loss of IU and UNC on the schedule this year, I think we should recognize that it’s not all bad.  In fact, Mr. Huguenin thinks it’s still got a quarter of the twelve best games in the country.  Particularly the impending showdown with the Cards on December 29th.  You hear that date, Siva?  Nerlens is looking for you, and he always finds what he’s looking for.

Article written by Corey Nichols

28 Comments for Is UK/UL the Best Non-Con Basketball Game This Season?

  1. Azubuike's Bicep
    9:07 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Wait, I’m confused…We have 3 of the top 8 most anticipated non-conference games, yet I’m told by other fans that I should be upset with the “bad/weak/lackluster” non-conference schedule next year.

  2. TruBlu
    9:09 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Still a little upset that Cal decided he would rather schedule “non-traditionally” and take IU off the schedule even though our tradition is what sets us apart from every other program in the country.

  3. UK
    9:11 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    1) People are mad about the increase in ticket prices paired with the lack of quality HOME opponents….which is fine because I’d watch Kentucky play a high school JV team. However, after this year we should have at least UNC or UofL at home every year and hopefully we can play IU again in the near future.

  4. warrior
    9:11 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Warrior sayeth ” Very apprehensive about trip to ND to face experienced Irish Men’s varsity basketball squad”. Thus sayeth the Warrior.

  5. JacobTheLongTimeCaller
    9:13 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    good article. i do find it interesring how everyone complains about our “weak” non conference. this year could be our toughest non con yet. especially with arguably the weakest team and most likely the toughest SOS

  6. tom
    9:15 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    1. Buke, maybe the fans are complaining about a ‘bad/weak/lackluster’ non-conference schedule at Rupp…not overall. Just guessing.

  7. Sally O
    9:17 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Uhhh #3.. That was the point of this year. So we could get back on schedule and not play two home games one year and two away games the next year against Louisville and North Carolina. Next year we get Louisville in Rupp and away at UNC. Then vice versa. It was good scheduling. Go cats

  8. Azubuike's Bicep
    9:19 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    3- I still think it’s ridiculous that people get upset over that. Maybe those who are upset should be more appreciative of the fact that they will be watching the defending National Champs. Not to mention that it is almost impossible to get tickets to ANY home game without being either a student or season ticket holder. And that there are people who would give their left arm to even have a chance to buy a ticket. Some people just can’t be pleased though. I’m with you, I’d watch them play a JV team and I wouldn’t complain one bit.

  9. Azubuike's Bicep
    9:22 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    6-The frustration with the schedule EVENTUALLY transitioned into frustration with the home schedule. But you and I both know that once IU and UNC left the schedule, people were mad about the non-conference schedule as a whole, and not just the home games. And I’m not guessing on that.

  10. Bob Sugar
    9:23 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Where to Begin? Let’s start with this gem: “The circumstances are actually fairly similar to this past season’s matchup with North Carolina, where both teams were expected to be 1 and 2 heading into the game” You mean where 10 NBA draft picks were on the floor at the same time, including 8 first-rounders?

    Next, “While it wouldn’t match the Final Four game in intensity (nothing for the next decade will, most likely)” A championship matchup would, guaranteed.

    And this, “as it revives every basketball ghost that ever cared to haunt UK fans”, you mean this game brings up texas western, 1975 championship game, Louisville regional, Michigan final four loss, rasheed wallace choke, “simon says championship”, Dwayne Wade game, and Kemba Walker..

  11. Hulk Hogan
    9:29 am July 25, 2012 Permalink


  12. theSkinny81
    9:33 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    So Rick and the Cards are already under enough pressure, and they drop THIS bomb on ’em???? lol

  13. BusterBrown
    9:46 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    my favorite non con game is always lidnsey wilson. easier to get parking space and a hot dog.

  14. Rondo
    9:48 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    #10 get a life. This article wasnt that bad and it looks like u put alot of thought into some really stupid counter points

  15. Hey Dbag
    9:55 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    10 you left out the Laettner shot in your last paragraph, dbag.

  16. Rockfield, KY
    10:01 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Why do so many people on this website have to find something to complain about? Are things really that bad that you have to get on a free website and rip columns that 20-somethings are writing as part time bloggers? It doesn’t make you look smarter or more informed than anyone else, just more pathetic.

  17. Bob Sugar
    10:08 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Stop giving that Lattner shot so much credit.. for the sake of all UK fans stop getting so bent out of shape for one loss that was avenged in 1998.. Duke was favored in both games and both provided a dramatic benediction. But ’98 game hrt Duke more than the ’92 loss hurt us. Sure some of our favorite players lost, but everything Duke prides itself on was destroyed in that 1998 game. The symbol of Duke, Steve “Wojo” with his floor slapping, charge taking, hustle player mentality was thoroughly roasted by Wayne Turner. Coach K the “greatest coach in the history of the universe” was severley outcoached by none other than, Tubby Smith– a crushing defeat to anyone’s ego to be sure, much less the “intellectual giant” that is, Coach K.

  18. Bob Sugar
    10:15 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    There’s nothing like the indignant “free site” talk about amateur bloggers.. Quit defending them, once again, I’ll reiterate: These bloggers market this site for public consumption, as such, they represent UK fans to the outside world and whatever feeble, inchoate arguments they present or oponions they expound, must be criticized by all true cat fans.

  19. YeahBut
    10:15 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    17 even if we avenged it, to leave it off a “ghost” list for us would be silly. Hell people went into an uproar about a UPS commercial about it this year…it’s def a ghost, avenged or not.

  20. Bob Sugar
    10:19 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    19) In case you are as illiterate as you sound, Corey was already talking about that shot.. I also forgot to mention a lot of “ghosts”, WVU loss for instance, but if you look at the quote “as it revives EVERY basketball ghost that EVER cared to haunt UK fans”, this one instance does not bring up EVERY basketball ghost– that is my point

  21. PuhLease
    10:20 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    18 they only represent UK to the outside world who chooses to come here…there really are only a handful of Card and Hoosiers that come on here though they post under different names; there’s like 1 Duke fan and 1 or 2 Fl fans and that’s pretty much it. So pretty sure they don’t really represent UK fans to much of the outside world. And who comes to a site of a team they hate to read about them? I’ve never been to a Duke, Hoosier,or FL site. Only been on a L’ville site bc KSR links stories sometimes. Even then I’d never comment bc it’s not my team’s site and I don’t want to go there and argue like they do here…it just makes you look pathetic. As does complaining about content on a free site that you choose daily to read.

  22. YeahBut
    10:26 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    20 I didn’t read Corey’s post because everyone knows it’s a waste of time. I just read the comments to get the summary of the article. Then I also come across comments from idiots like you. I may be illiterate but at least I’m not a jackas$ like you. Your comments are worthless.

  23. Bob Sugar
    10:29 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    21) What about the young Kentucky fans growing up reading this drivel and thinking this is what being a Kentucky fan is all about?.. Nonstop complaining about a Duke game they never saw and generally holding an irreverent view about the rest of the college basketball landscape.

  24. Bluey
    10:34 am July 25, 2012 Permalink

    No it’s not the best rivalry, because Cal continues to punk Marty Feldman and the cards not only on the court, but every way imagineable off the court as well. He is in the Crypt keeper and UL fans heads so bad it’s not even funny. Just look at how many threads they start on their boards devoted to Cal and UK. It’s so bad they will come over here and flood the comment section with every new post. Some of them will even pose with UK username’s. It’s pathetic. Matt thanks you by the way, you are helping keep his site up and running. What is the overall head to head record now? 30-14? The series has to be more competitive for it to be a rivalry. We dominated them when combover Denny was there, and we continue to dominate them with the crypt keeper at the helm with no end in sight. I doubt Cal will ever lose to UL again.

  25. ransmith
    12:14 pm July 25, 2012 Permalink

    The Kentucky at Notre Dame game on November 29th may well be their toughest game of the season. It is awful early in the season to be going on the road against a very seasoned good team which Notre Dame is. They will be tested physically and mentally in this game!

  26. Katdaddy
    12:14 pm July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Do yall think that it might be possible that cal was a little afraid of losing to indy and ul in the same year? Just asking!

  27. I have season tix
    12:24 pm July 25, 2012 Permalink

    I have upper arena season tix in Rupp. Actually 3 of them. All you guys that are willing to pay me face value ($120 per game for all 3) + parking + concessions to see UK play Northwood, Transy, Lafayette, Morehead St, Long Island, Samford, Portland, Lipscomb, Marshall and Eastern Michigan just post your email address here. Or you can check Craigslist after the season tix are in my hands. I am not kidding — I will copy your email addresses and contact you when the season tix arrive. If those games excite you, then good for you. I will keep Baylor (still not going to be a good game) and the SEC games. Just to be clear, I’m not calling for Calipari or Barnhart to be fired for the home schedule or anything like that. But lets call a spade a spade. No marquee games except a couple SEC contests maybe.

  28. I have season tix
    12:30 pm July 25, 2012 Permalink

    LOL, I just did the math. At a conservative $130 per game, including parking, for my 3 tix (see post #27) for the OOC games (minus Baylor), that’s $1,300 total to see those games listed above. Can anybody name me 1 player from all those teams combined?? (Transy and Morehead don’t count — couple of KY HS kids on those teams)