We found out Kentucky’s conference opponents for the 2018-19 season yesterday, and although we don’t know the dates of each game yet, we’re gonna do what we do and rank them from hardest to easiest.
After examining the list, let me tell you, it is one tough slate.
1. at Tennessee
Not only has Kentucky lost their last four games at Thompson-Boling Arena, the Vols are ranked as high as third in some preseason lists. With their top six scorers back, including Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, Rick Barnes’ squad will once again be a formidable foe.
2. at Auburn
Similarly, Kentucky’s lost at Auburn the last two seasons. Mustapha Heron may be transferring but Bryce Brown and Jared Harper will be back, along with Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy, who had to sit out last season due to the FBI investigation.
The Vols’ win in Rupp Arena last season proved they are no longer scared of the Cats; however, I am scared of them.
4. at Mississippi State
This is not your typical Mississippi State team. Ben Howland has his top six scorers back, including the Weatherspoon brothers, and a Top 25 recruiting class coming in. The Bulldogs are a preseason top 15 team according to CBS Sports and NBC Sports, and the Hump will be rocking.
Bruce Pearl is desperate to win in Rupp Arena. The Tigers didn’t come to Lexington last season, so this could be his best shot.
6. at Florida
Chorizo Chiozza is gone, but Jalen Hudson and Kevaughn Allen aren’t, and the O’Dome is a notoriously tough place to play; in fact, Kentucky’s lost there the last two years.
7. at Vanderbilt
Five-star freshmen Simi Shittu and Darius Garland won’t make Vanderbilt a title contender, but they could help them knock off Kentucky in that bizarre ass gym.
Kentucky was lucky to leave Baton Rouge with a win last year; this year’s game may be in Rupp, but a sophomore Tremont Waters is scary and he’ll be joined by five-stars Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams, along with Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams. If this game was at LSU, Kentucky would lose.
9. Mississippi State
I think Kentucky splits the series with Mississippi State. Obviously, this is the easier one to win.
10. at Alabama
Collin Sexton is off to the NBA, but Alabama has everyone else back and adds Tevin Mack, a transfer from Texas. Avery Johnson will do everything in his power to make sure Coleman Coliseum is packed and loud when the Cats come to town.
Florida was one of two SEC teams to beat Kentucky in Rupp last year and they did it while shooting an uncharacteristic 20% from three. Who knows what the Gators will be like without Chiozza, but they won’t be scared of the bright lights at Rupp.
12. at Missouri
Kentucky lost at Missouri last year by nine points; the Tigers lost a lot of players and only have two point guards — one a true freshman — but they do have Jontay Porter, the SEC’s co-Sixth Man of the Year, back from the NBA Draft.
13. at Georgia
Tom Crean has a heck of a rebuilding project ahead of him, but what better way to make a splash in your first year than beating Kentucky? With former Georgia commit Ashton Hagans and fellow in-state star EJ Montgomery coming to town wearing Kentucky blue, the crowd at Stegeman Coliseum could get nasty.
Both Darius Garland and Simi Shittu were recruited by Kentucky; they will be eager to prove themselves at Rupp.
I don’t think there’s anything Mike Anderson wants more in this world than to beat John Calipari…except maybe another pocket square.
16. at Ole Miss
Kermit Davis takes over for Andy Kennedy — let me pour one out for my homie — and has his work cut out for him, but at least the Rebel Black Bear Land Sharks got Terence Davis back from the draft.
17. South Carolina
Why did we lose at South Carolina last year again? Oh yeah, because Chris Silva scored a career-high 27 points. He’s back, but this game’s at Rupp, so I’m not concerned.
18. Texas A&M
Robert Williams, Tyler Davis, and DJ Hogg are all off to the NBA, making the Aggies a shell of their former selves. Admon Gilder’s still there, but not even Billy Kennedy can coach a team that returns two of its top eight scorers to a win at Rupp.
Let’s hear your predictions for Kentucky’s conference record next season.