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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: So What is the Perfect Non-Conference Schedule?


*this is a picture of an old schedule

UK will play 12 non-conference basketball games this year and while some of the names on the schedule sound good (Michigan State, Utah, Ohio State, Louisville), the reality is only one of those games is at Rupp Arena and the remainder of the games have not exactly excited the fans.  In fact, I think fans have started to realize that UK no longer considers quality home games a priority in scheduling.  They don’t see a recruiting advantage and rather have moved towards “TV games” in larger arenas and “classic” yearly games.  So right now there is an imbalance between what is best for the fan and what is perceived as best for the program.

So what would the ideal non-conference schedule look like?  I go in to this task granting that the Champions Classic, SEC-Big 12 Challenge, and CBS Sports Classic have to remain on the schedule, along with the Louisville rivalry.  I also am not unrealistically saying that Kentucky should play 12 bluebloods in the sport but rather have to play some mid-major teams.  So here is what I think would make an ideal schedule:

Game #1: Champions Classic (Duke, Kansas, or Michigan State)

Game #2: CBS Sports Classic (North Carolina, Ohio State, or UCLA)

Game #3: SEC-Big 12 Challenge (rotating opponent and location)

Game #4: Louisville (home and home series)

Game #5: Memphis (home and home series)
-Calipari would never do it obviously but there isn’t a hotter name in the college game than Penny Hardaway and he’s taken a couple recruits from Cal already.  Wouldn’t it be nice to knock them down a peg?  Additionally, Memphis is a regional team so UK fans could travel to this game.

Game #6: High Point (home)
-Tubby Smith should get to bring his team in every year to Rupp Arena.  Give Tubby a yearly standing ovation, hang his jersey one of those years, and then give his team a beatdown.  All parties win.

Game #7:  Western Kentucky (2 for 1 deal)
-Two games at Rupp Arena and 1 game in Nashville.  Cats never have to go to Bowling Green and Nashville would still be close to a home game for UK.  Western has done such a deal with UL in the past.  WKU is the only in-state school in a semi-major conference and Rick Stansbury is bringing in some of the best talent in school history.  Could UK lose?  Maybe.  But should we schedule from a place of fear?

Game #8 and #9: Northern Kentucky and Murray State
-Sorry but no special deals for these teams.  They must come to Rupp every single time.  But both teams are consistently in the NCAA Tournament, hence why they get preference over EKU and Morehead.  If those programs pick up the pace, maybe they find their way on the schedule.  It’s time to throw these in-state schools some chances.

Game #10: Indiana OR Butler OR Purdue (Home and Indy)
-Fans all worked up on either side about not playing Indiana, here is a comprise.  You play the Hoosiers twice every 6 years.  In the other four years, you play Butler twice and Purdue twice.  All those schools would be quality opponents, you would play in Indianapolis for the “road” games (although Purdue probably wouldn’t agree to that) and you toss the Hoosiers a crumb.

Game #11: New York City/Brooklyn Game (Opponent Varies)
-I think fans can accept Calipari wants to play a game in that region.  Where I am baffled is when the opponent is Hofstra or Monmouth.  I can accept Seton Hall.  Other potential opponents that would be acceptable would be Syracuse and St. Johns.  Basically any team in that basic area that comes from a Power 6 conference.  If you are going to ask fans to travel that far, give them a decent opponent please.

Game #12: Random Beatdown Opponent (YUM CENTER)
-I get it, those 11 games above would all have their challenges.  No gimmes.  And a schedule has to have a gimme.  So throw in Mount St. Marys or Radford, give the guys a 40-point win, and move along.  But the catch with this game is it is played in Louisville.  As a Louisville resident, I miss the Freedom Hall game every year.  Now that the Yum Center is under water, I would bet they would be open for a UK home date.  Fans would flock no matter the opponent.  Win for all involved.

So how would you change the non-conference schedule the most?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

17 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: So What is the Perfect Non-Conference Schedule?



  1. JTHinton
    10:09 am July 25, 2019 Permalink

    12 Non-Conf Games:
    Champions Classic — No changes
    Cut CBS Classic, add UNC home/home
    Indiana home/home OR neutral
    SEC-Big 12 Challenge — No changes
    Replace BBN Showcase/Adolph Rupp Classic games against rubbish teams with home games vs Morehead, Murray, B’mine, etc.
    UofL home/home — no changes
    Maui/Atlantis every few seasons; play a thanksgiving tourney every year



  2. BlueByYou
    10:13 am July 25, 2019 Permalink

    Can’t disagree with a lot other than Indiana and Memphis. Screw IU and playing Memphis is stupid. WHY? Does nothing for us and only helps them. Can you imagine the shit storm Hardaway would start should they win? Look at what he has already done with the Tennessee relationship. Better options in my opinion (and probably won’t happen either) would be a home and home with West Virginia (Cal hates playing Huggie) and North Carolina. UNC is always a fun game as is beating them. Just skip every third year if we end up playing them in the Champions Classic and bring in a home game name opponent without a reciprocal. Or a Notre Dame game in Louisville….that was always fun.
    All fun to talk about but doubt anything will happen. Different times!



  3. ukjaybrat
    10:18 am July 25, 2019 Permalink

    some people will never be happy. we could play home and homes with duke, ul, unc, osu, indiana, kansas and anyone else in the top 10 and they’d still be pissed we play half of them on the road every year.



  4. Nbnbret_2019
    10:25 am July 25, 2019 Permalink

    -Swap Indiana with Notre Dame and make it a regional round robin or a home/Indianapolis switch. Maybe let each team take turns hosting. Example, Notre Dame hosts both games then Purdue hosts both games.

    -No to Memphis as long as they treat Cal like dirt, screw them. I’d rather have us figure out a Gonzaga series. Maybe Rupp Arena & LA Staples Center instead of two Las Vegas games like this year. Especially if we don’t renew UCLA.

    -Keep Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Years as local games with regional opponents or a destination trip for fans to plan.

    -Every four years we get an international exhibition trip, we should alternate the Maui & Bahamas tournaments in years we don’t have the international exhibition. It gives the players a chance to bond early on and the fans a big trip to plan around.



    • Nbnbret_2019
      10:37 am July 25, 2019 Permalink

      Also not interested in playing a game at Yum Center, let’s keep it at Rupp versus giving UofL any lending hand at bankrupting their arena.



  5. VirginiaCat
    10:27 am July 25, 2019 Permalink

    I agree that it would be nice to schedule Memphis and knock them down a peg or two, but it is equally possible that they would beat us. The optics of a loss to Memphis would be terrible on a number of levels. As a fan, I would love to see it, but I see zero chance that Cal would allow it. He is not going to allow Memphis to elevate its program at his expense. The same is true to a lesser degree regarding match-ups with in-state schools like Western and Murray State. Fans would love it, but there would be more to lose than gain from a prestige perspective. One last thought. As the SEC grows in strength, I think there will be more and more competitive home games during the regular season. This will at least partially compensate for pre-season cupcakes at home.



    • runningunnin.454
      1:55 pm July 25, 2019 Permalink

      LOL, a lucid, well stated comment from Virginia; knock me over with a feather. Ha ha.



  6. CrystalBall
    10:48 am July 25, 2019 Permalink

    There is no such thing as a perfect non-conference schedule. Not a good idea to play high ranked programs that early when you are always starting 3 or 4 freshmen.



  7. 8XChamps
    10:54 am July 25, 2019 Permalink

    Love it!!



  8. KyZoneBlitz
    10:57 am July 25, 2019 Permalink

    I like your schedule, although in my opinion Indiana shouldn’t be tossed even a micro-crumb, yes, I still want to play them, but after the insanely, extremely low-class showing of their fans the last time we played in Bloomington with AD and co. (There were rumors of racial slurs and Even threats during the game and then of course the court-storming where if they could have stepped on one of our players to get there, they would have considered it a bonus) then after all that, not even an apology from their athletic department or university which I think should have been the least they should have done afterwards.. then once past the fans, the officiating in that game was horrid, one of the poorest officiated games I can remember watching, and for perspective, we also lost to Vandy which had a good team that season in the SEC tourney title game. The refs were on point, fair and called the game exceptionally well, Vandy just out-played us. They were focused, played good defense and were on fire offensively, give them their due, congrats and mob e on



  9. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    12:42 pm July 25, 2019 Permalink

    Nbnbret you beat me to it on IU to ND, although I wouldn’t do the tourny style thing because we only need one opponents a year.

    ND has fielded some really good teams in recent years and has passionate fans who (the ones I’ve meet) are alot like ours, IU sucks and their fan base tries like hell to prove they’re 90% inbreed/meth head/crack fiend/alchoholic aholes who pose a threat to the genetic gene pool and any decent person who shows up there…basically a far worse version of Louisville fans.



    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      12:43 pm July 25, 2019 Permalink

      I hate autocorrect.



  10. KyZoneBlitz
    12:56 pm July 25, 2019 Permalink

    like your schedule, although in my opinion Indiana shouldn’t be tossed even a micro-crumb, yes, I still want to play them, but after the insanely, extremely low-class showing of their fans the last time we played in Bloomington with AD and co. (There were rumors of racial slurs and Even threats during the game and then of course the court-storming where if they could have stepped on one of our players to get there, they would have considered it a bonus) then after all that, not even an apology from their athletic department. I’m 100% behind Cal in not playing again unless they change to neutral sites which, playing in Indy isn’t really even a neutral site, just a bigger venue, and Cal even stated he’d play every year in Indy and they still turned it down.. I say bring on both Butler and Purdue home/home games. Not bad travel and good quality opponents. One thing I disagree with is your notion that most of those fames aren’t gimmes… they may not be gimmes, but technically louisville isn’t supposed to be either. We are Kentucky, the top of the food-chain, and the Lion doesn’t fear anybody, bring it on. If say we’d win 98% of those games yearly.



    • runningunnin.454
      1:58 pm July 25, 2019 Permalink

      Well said; and it’s a dog-eat-dog world…but, what doth the Lion care?



    • VirginiaCat
      4:44 pm July 25, 2019 Permalink

      Agree with your comments about Indiana, but it’s hard to assert that we are top of the food chain when other teams have been eating our lunch lately. Hopefully we will soon return to our preeminent role in the animal kingdom. Beating Michigan State will be a good start and will help mitigate the memory of last year’s Duke game. Ending our drought on top 5 recruits will help. Getting back to the Final Four soon will go a long way in awakening the lion.