After being reported by various news outlets this morning, the Kentucky basketball program has officially announced its trip to London, England to take on Michigan in 2020, followed by a home-and-home with the Wolverines in 2021 and 2022.
“The Kentucky men’s basketball team has signed a three-year deal with Michigan that will take the Wildcats to London next season and add a marquee home-and-home series for the following two years,” the school announced. “Beginning with a trip to O2 Arena in London in December of 2020 – exact date to be announced at a later time – the Wildcats and Wolverines will play three consecutive seasons. UK will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the Dec. 4, 2021 game, and Kentucky will host Michigan in Rupp Arena on Dec. 3, 2022.”
According to the release, the neutral-site game will be the first NCAA Division I college basketball game to be played in the one of the world’s most popular venues, O2 Arena.
All further details on the specific date, game time, television partner, ticket pricing, ancillary events, and ticket sales will be announced in January of 2020. Travel packages will also be announced at a later date.
“This series with Michigan checks off a lot of boxes when we’re looking at teams to schedule,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “The first thing is, to add an opponent like Michigan and to do so at a point in the schedule where we’re beginning to find out who we are as a team will be important in our development.
“And then to be able to do something different – to be first, which our fans know we love to do – and play this first game is London will be an unforgettable experience for our players and for our fans. I imagine the home-and-home games the following seasons will be as good as any nonconference games in the country.”
UK has competed in four regular-season trips outside the United States, including three under Calipari. This time, though, will mark the program’s first European trip under Calipari.
According to UK, the Wildcats traveled to Puerto Rico in November 1998 for the San Juan Shootout (UK went 2-1 during the three-game trip), defeated Cleveland State and Stanford in Mexico in the Cancun Challenge in November 2009 and most recently beat Arizona State in the Bahamas in November 2016.
While it wasn’t a regular-season matchup, the 1948 national champion Kentucky Wildcats represented the U.S. in the 1948 Olympics in London, with UK winning all eight of its games en route to a gold medal.
As for Kentucky vs. Michigan, UK leads the all-time series with the Wolverines 5-2, with the most recent matchup taking place in the 2014 NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis when Aaron Harrison hit the second of three straight game-winning 3-pointers in the tournament to advance UK to the Final Four.
As a member of Michigan’s historic Fab Five, Howard’s Wolverines knocked off Kentucky 81-78 in overtime in the 1993 Final Four to advance to the national championship game.
Kentucky’s trip to Ann Arbor in 2021 will be the first since 1970, with Michigan’s most recent trip to Lexington coming in 1968 for the UK Invitational Tournament in Memorial Coliseum. The series is tied 1-1 in Lexington, though Kentucky leads Michigan 2-0 in Ann Arbor and 2-1 in neutral-site matchups.
Get your passports ready, BBN. Kentucky’s trip to London is official.