The Kentucky basketball program will host its own bubble in Lexington to begin the season.
According to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, Kentucky will host a multi-team event in a pod format in Lexington, with Detroit, Hartford and Richmond “in the final stages of agreeing to play” the first week of the season.
“Kentucky plans to host its own MTE in a pod format in Lexington,” Norlander reported. “Detroit, Hartford [and] Richmond are in the final stages of agreeing to play [with] UK in first week of the season. Each team would play each other once. Three doubleheaders over four or five days.“
“These four schools were already involved in a Kentucky-catalyzed MTE, but the dates were scheduled prior to Nov. 25,” Norlander said in a follow-up tweet. “Now they’ll be pushed back and done in the end of November. John Calipari’s son is a senior at Detroit, too. Cal has been vocal about big schools helping out mids.”
This news comes just a day after Andy Katz of NCAA.com broke the news that the Champions Classic – typically the first event of the college basketball season featuring Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State – is tentatively scheduled to take place between Dec. 1-5, with the event likely taking place in Orlando.
With this scenario, Kentucky would knock out three games in four or five days before heading to Orlando to participate in the Champions Classic bubble the following week.
Unfortunately, barring an exception from the NCAA, this move takes out the possibility of a round-robin event in Orlando featuring the nation’s blue blood programs. Kentucky would only play Kansas, while Duke would take on Michigan State, as planned.
“Unless an exception is made, this ends any hope that Champions Classic could include a scenario in which UK/Duke/MSU/KU would all play two of the other 3 teams in that field,” Norlander added in his report. “There was a little buzz on that a while back. Only one MTE allowed per team.”
Back in August, Kentucky head coach John Calipari expressed interest in bubble environments for the 2020-21 college basketball season, specifically mentioning one with the Champions Classic and another with various mid-major “buy” games.
“With basketball, we’re talking 12 players, a party of 20. I think the bubble or a pod, it’s been shown to work now,” said Calipari. “Do you have multiple bubbles or pods? Do we go and play the Champions Classic in a bubble, without fans, and we play each other? We all play each other round-robin? We could walk away with three games [played].
“Do we put in a bubble or a pod, let’s say Kentucky, Louisville, and Michigan State with three “bye games?” Detroit, where my son plays, Murray State, and East Tennessee State, and we play a round-robin so we get buy games where those teams really need that money. Can we do it that way? Is the NCAA Tournament in a bubble? I know [NCAA SVP] Dan Gavitt right now is looking at all kind of different options. What I’m happy about is we’re doing it now, we’re not waiting until two months from now. No, we’re doing it now to figure it out.
“We now have multiple paths, the NBA and WNBA have both shown that we can do this.”
UofL head coach Chris Mack announced Friday that Louisville would be hosting their own bubble from Nov. 25 through Dec. 5 featuring 8-12 teams and 3-5 games per team. Outside of Kentucky and Louisville, bubbles in Orlando, Mohegan Sun, Sioux Falls, and Washington, D.C. have also been confirmed for the upcoming season.