Roses are red, violets are blue, poems are hard, bacon.
Andy Glockner of Sports Illustrated took some time to highlight the upcoming basketball season’s “must-see nonconference face-offs,” and to absolutely no one’s surprise, Kentucky gets more than a couple entries. Based on a sliding scale of “overall intrigue,” the top twenty-five games were listed in descending order. Kentucky gets all three of its qualifying games in the top eight. In relevant part:
1. Kentucky at Louisville (Dec. 29)
Two elite teams meet once again, rematch of the Final Four, eternal bragging rights (at least for another year), HoF coaches who can’t stand each other. It’s not always a pretty watch, but it’s compelling TV and the best soap opera in the sport at the moment.
3. Kentucky vs. Duke (Atlanta, Nov. 13)
The Entitled Fan Base Bowl! Just kidding. Sort of. I love the idea of the Champions Classic — great programs playing regularly is always good — but the games are too early in the season. Both clubs have questions after losing some key pieces, both have freshmen that are very much worth watching as well as some returning talent. Kansas-MSU is a strong co-headliner.
8. Kentucky at Notre Dame (SEC-Big East Challenge, Nov. 29)
The Wildcats are playing in Indiana and it’s not in a dome! With how absurdly good ND is at home and how much talent it returns this season, this is a very difficult early-season spot for the as-always-youthful Cats.
I disagree with the “entitled fan base” comparison.” Duke may be entitled, Kentucky just has titles. That said, it’s not entirely unfair. Also, one of the points in creating the Champions Classic is to have great games early in the season, much like football has great opening day matchups to spark interest and “kickoff” the year. (Pun intended.) Further, it’s a little strange to think that losing to Louisville this year would cost us bragging rights, as the Final Four game, en route to a championship, is enough to sustain those rights for at least five years.
In all, though, Mr. Glockner is fairly accurate in selecting the most intriguing non-conference games of the season. There’s really no argument that UK/UL shouldn’t be at the top: it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it is the most anticipated game this season, nonconference or otherwise. What do you think, though? Any games you’d add or remove from the list? Any games ranked too high or low?