Often times, the second tier games on a basketball schedule are what make or break the difficulty of that schedule. UK will always have the Champions Classic and Louisville’s of the world on the schedule. Tonight, we take on Eastern Kentucky, the 2nd consecutive year we have played the Colonels. The Cats played Northern Kentucky 2 years ago. But I have to wonder: why not give a little more love to the in-state schools like Murray State and Western Kentucky?
Do you realize that Kentucky has NEVER played Murray State in basketball. Never. That is stunning to me. Western Kentucky is not much better, having played UK only 6 times in it’s history and 3 of those were during the NCAA Tournament when UK had no choice. The last time UK actually scheduled WKU was 2001, and WKU won that game in Rupp. Now, the answer is actually not that difficult to figure out and I am sure will be mentioned many times in the comments section: both WKU and Murray want true home or semi-home games as part of their deal. And let me be clear: UK should not agree to any deal that forces them to play in Murray or Bowling Green. Not my argument.
What I am arguing is that I would like to see agreements in place for UK to get 2 home games and 1 neutral game in Nashville/Saint Louis to play these teams on a yearly basis. WHY? Because if UK is willing to play a true road game against South Florida this year, a team that is below Murray and WKU, then wouldn’t it benefit the RPI of the team, as well as the interest of the fanbase more to play an in-state game closer to Lexington. Let’s be honest, even if those neutral site games were played, UK would still have the majority of the crowd. Win-win-win.
I think UK can work out a deal where we see NKU, EKU, Murray, Morehead, WKU, and Louisville on the schedule every year. Morehead, EKU, and NKU would never ask for any kind of home game. Great. Special deals would have to be worked out with WKU and Murray. So what. When we have played true road games against South Florida, I think we can work out a Nashville game with Western every 3 years.
And if you’re argument is that you are scared these teams might actually beat the Cats, then what does that say about you? That you are scared of mid-major programs in the state? That is no way to approach a schedule. I see no negatives to scheduling these teams. They wouldn’t try and make you play in their gyms, big interest in the state, small chance of losing. If Murray or WKU is trying to secure a home game, then I get it. But if not, I don’t see any reason not to seriously consider this. Don’t tell me UK has nothing to gain by scheduling these games. If that is the case, what gain do they have in scheduling Wofford or Siena? At least Murray and WKU would get more interest.
I just wonder what you all think. Do you want to see more in-state schools on the schedule on a yearly basis? Or is that an unimportant factor in the schedule for you?