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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Creating the Perfect Non-Conference Schedule

So this season, Kentucky will play 13 non-conference games.  Some of the usual teams dot the schedule like Louisville and North Carolina.  Some new additions like Texas and a couple invitational games in UCLA and Kansas.  And then there are 7 complete cream puffs and Providence, all at Rupp.  Those are nice matchups, but they are just not games fans will get “fired up” about.  What if this fan could create a 13 game non-conference PERFECT schedule?  Below would be the 13 games I would choose, with locations:

WESTERN KENTUCKY (at Rupp Arena)

-As a WKU grad, I find it to be a travesty these 2 schools don’t play on a very regular basis.  WKU  is the 3rd best program in this state historically (sorry Murray St).   I have to wonder if UK losing to WKU in 2001 has any impact on the unwillingness to play, seeing as it’s a little embarrassing to lose to an in-state school (think UL to Morehead).  Nonetheless, EKU, NKU and Morehead get regular appearances on the schedule.  Time for WKU too.

TEXAS TECH (at Rupp Arena)

-I would love to see Tubby Smith back at Rupp.  And I think the fans would give him a standing ovation if he did.  And if they wouldn’t, that’s pathetic.  Nonetheless, just seeing that guy back would be great to see, plus Tech would not be a real risk to beat UK.

VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE (at Rupp Arena)

-We got some payback over Gardner-Webb a couple years ago, but have yet to get any on the second most embarrassing moment of the Gillispie era, allowing VMI to run all over us in the 2008 season opener.  Let’s get them back, have an exciting up and down game and win it by 30-40 points.  Then the Gillispie era will be officially buried.

INDIANA (at Lucas Oil Stadium)

-As someone living right on the border of Indiana, I LOVED the rivalry with the Hoosiers.  We don’t have to discuss why it happened and who’s to blame, I just wish grown men could get over their issues and schedule a basketball game.  And why Lucas Oil?  Because the RCA Dome isn’t available anymore.  Those neutral site games at RCA and Freedom Hall was some of the best neutral court games in the country.  I would imagine Lucas Oil would be awesome.  Plus a little payback from 3 years ago would be nice.

DUKE (in Philadelphia)

-It almost happened in 2001.  But UK lost to USC in the Sweet 16 and Duke went on to win the national title.  Nonetheless, these 2 schools have played several times since 1992, but putting them back in Philly would be cool.  Invite all the players back from that 1992 game, including Pitino, and make it a celebration of the greatest college basketball game in history with what continues to be 2 of the best college basketball programs in the country.

MAUI INVITATIONAL (3 Games)

-Still the most scenic, competitive, memorable preseason tournament.  Kentucky has played some epic games in Hawaii and frankly, you know whoever the 3 opponents would be, they would be quality games.  Not the cheapest trip in the world to make, but UK fans still pony up the money whenever they can.

NORTH CAROLINA (at Rupp Arena)

-Obviously this game has to be played.  Outside of Louisville, this UK’s longest standing rivalry.  The reason I put it at Rupp Arena is the Dean Dome sucks.  They barely fill most games and their big game atmosphere is less than stellar for a big time program.  Rupp Arena’s big game atmosphere on the other hand is quite good.

UCLA (at Springfield)

-The 2 most successful college basketball programs playing in the city that basketball was invented.  Seems about right to me.

MEMPHIS (at Fed Ex Forum)

-Sure, we will let Memphis host us and honor Calipari and all that.  And then we will beat the living crap out of them.  Because Josh Pastner runs a program much like Cal does.  Except he does it much worse, or at a Conference USA level.  UK would basically show them how running a program should be.  And we’ll do it on their floor.

KANSAS (at Allen Fieldhouse)

-I feel like Allen is probably the best college basketball arena game in and game out (Rupp the best big game environment), so I would give Kansas the home game here.  Plus, UK still needs payback for that 915 point drubbing they took in Pitino’s first season.  Tubby went there once and also got slammed.  So I feel like Kentucky still has something to prove on this court.  I take on the challenge.

LOUISVILLE (at Yum Center)

-Of course this game is on the schedule, but why the Yum Center?  Because UK fans still get in that building in droves when the game is there, proving UL fans are not quite as passionate as UK fans.  Plus, it’s so much sweeter beating them on their home floor.  Still say the win in 2010 (Knight team) was the best victory in the regular season series.

This is a FAN’S schedule, not a realistic opinion of how a schedule can be formed.  The cream puff games serve a purpose in helping develop younger players and offensive and defensive schemes.  Plus, there is little risk of losing too many games in the non-conference.  What I just presented is what would be the most ENTERTAINING schedule as fan to watch.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

9 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Creating the Perfect Non-Conference Schedule



  1. jonthes
    9:40 am December 16, 2014 Permalink

    Tubby will come back when he is retiring. As for Texas Tech not being a threat – they have one loss, that to LSU at LSU in overtime. Undermanned last year, they nearly knocked off Kansas and had several other wins and near wins against major competition. In a weaker conference Tubby would have gotten them into the tournament. The disrespect for him continues. No one is a threat to beat UK this year at home, but in a lesser year it’s exactly the kind of upset he pulls.



  2. lexslamman
    9:51 am December 16, 2014 Permalink

    13 games? I’m not going to give locations, just opponents. Here’s who I would like to see (in order of importance to me):
    Louisville
    North Carolina
    Duke
    Syracuse
    UCLA OR USC
    Michigan State OR Michigan
    Kansas OR Iowa State OR Minnesota
    Texas OR Baylor
    Notre Dame OR Ohio State
    Arizona OR Utah OR New Mexico
    Georgetown OR St. Johns
    Gonzaga OR Stanford
    Miami OR Florida State OR USF

    Reasoning: The top four are classic rivalries. The rest are big-time, national TV games, and/or against teams in geographic locations useful for our national recruiting. Remember that some players in our recent past, including Terrence Jones and Kyle Wiltjer, were lured to Kentucky because we travel fearlessly to play away games. Anyone, any time, anywhere – unless you’re IU. If you’re a Hoosier, you had might as well be Division II.



    • JustBlue
      12:13 pm December 16, 2014 Permalink

      I would love to see games against Georgetown or USC since we have never beaten either of them.

      JB



    • ukcamel
      1:56 pm December 16, 2014 Permalink

      I mostly agree with these. I don’t think we play the teams in the region enough. Aside from Louisville and IU who we should play every year, I’d like to see a few of the following on the schedule every year:
      1. Ohio St.
      2. WVU
      3. Memphis
      4. Cincinnati
      5. Illinois
      6. Notre Dame
      7. WKU
      8. Murray St.
      9. EKU

      And then I’d like to see us play a couple against the other top national programs like Duke, UNC, Cuse, Kansas, Zona, UConn, and Mich. St.

      And then fill out the rest with whoever.



  3. RealCatsFan
    10:00 am December 16, 2014 Permalink

    BTI, three quick points:

    1. We already got our revenge on IU in the NCAA tourney. We knocked their Sweet Sixteen team with the Big Ugly out of the tourney and squashed their dreams – no revenge could be sweeter than that.

    2. Doubt if you could lure Pitino back to Philly to the game that will always haunt him. But if he did come, I would hope that Cal would make it a point to put a defender on the inbound man. 😉

    3. Agree that it would be great to get Tubby back at Rupp, but when we do, his name needs to go up in the rafters. All the other NC coaches have their up there, and I’m sure Cal will too someday.



    • Mc12
      10:23 am December 16, 2014 Permalink

      I agree. It was great getting revenge after ESPN replayed that shot religiously throughout the season.

      I know there are a lot of UK fans that do not consider Indiana to be a rivalry. To be a rivalry there has to be some balance, or some competition between the two.

      Maybe from a bragging standpoint, I get it. Or maybe if you watched the rivalry pre-1990. However, since then it’s been way too one-sided.

      I bet more Bengals fans consider the Bengals-Steelers game a rivalry than Steelers fans. Because the Bengals have been on the short end of the stick the past 25 years or so.

      The point is it’s probably considered a rivalry to those over 35, or for IU since they lose more often, or to those that consider it a rivalry for the sake of trash talk.



  4. Adam From Awesome Trot
    10:40 am December 16, 2014 Permalink

    http://goracers.com/custompages/Stats/MBB/2014-15/1415-09.pdf
    That link is my response to anyone who thinks Western is better than Murray.



  5. chief_cat
    11:56 am December 16, 2014 Permalink

    Overall good list. As a transplanted Kentuckian who now lives in Maryland, I would love to see UK play a game at the Verizon Center in DC sometime soon. Obviously I have personal reasons for wanting a game played nearby, but there are many other reasons why a game in DC would make sense. There is a large BBN presence in the area that would love a game played in our backyard. The area is a hotbed of high school talent – it seems that almost every year Cal has recruited at least one player from DC, MD or Northern VA. It’s a national market with passionate basketball fans. Besides, John Wall and Kevin Grevey both became legends in Lexington before doing the same in the nation’s capitol.

    Perhaps UK could play Duke, Virginia, Georgetown, Connecticut, Villanova or Maryland in DC sometime soon.



  6. JustBlue
    12:09 pm December 16, 2014 Permalink

    Two points:

    First) A game against Murray State would be a much more desirable match-up since we have never played them in our 100+ year history.

    Second) We never got revenge for the Gardner-Webb game. Still 0-1 all-time.

    Just Blue