Last week Kentucky announced that it is adding the Yale Bulldogs to the 2022-23 schedule. As of now, Kentucky has 28 games scheduled, meaning they need just three more to reach the total of 31 regular season games. If the “way too early top 25” predictions were to hold true, or to be somewhat on par with the first AP Top 25 rankings, then Kentucky could be facing the most difficult schedule in its entire history. Let’s first dive into the non-conference opponents.
Yale (Date TBD) – Rupp Arena
The Cat’s most recent addition to the schedule is the Yale Bulldogs from the Ivy League. The only matchup between Yale and Kentucky occurred during the 1961-62 season, when No. 6 UK bested the Bulldogs in convincing fashion 79-58. Kentucky is 16-3 all-time against Ivy League opponents (4-0 under Calipari), with the most recent matchup ending in a 79-70 win over Harvard during the 2017-18 season.
Duquesne (Date TBD) – Rupp Arena
The Dukes of Duquesne (d-oo-K-AI-N) is another opponent set to visit Lexington this year without an official date. Duquesne finished an abysmal 6-24 last season and were last in the A-10 with a 1-16 conference record. Kentucky is 2-0 all-time vs Duquesne, taking home a convincing 93-59 victory in the last matchup during the 2016-17 season.
Michigan State (Tuesday, Nov 15th) – Indianapolis (Champions Classic)
This year Kentucky’s Champions Classic opponent will be the Michigan State Spartans. The Cats and Spartans have faced off three previous times in the Champions Classic, to which Kentucky holds an impressive 2-1 advantage (UK leads the all-time series 14-11). With Coach Tom Izzo not having his “ideal” Michigan State squad this year, Kentucky should be able to add another one to the win column. This would help them get back to .500 in the Champions Classic — they are currently in 3rd place with a 5-6 record, behind Duke (7-4) and Kansas (6-5).
North Florida (Friday, Nov 18th) – Rupp Arena
Kentucky is set to play the Ospreys of North Florida for the second straight season. Last year, in the first ever meeting between the two schools, the Cats won by 34 in a 86-52 blowout. In that game Oscar Tshiebwe finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds, Sahvir Wheeler finished with 12 points and 14 assists, and Daimion Collins recorded one of his best performances of the season with 12 points and 6 rebounds.
Gonzaga (Sunday, Nov 20th) – Spokane Arena
Undoubtedly the biggest game of the entire college basketball season – in what could potentially be a #1 vs #2 matchup. Kentucky will travel 2,100 miles to Spokane, Washington to take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs in their home territory. With it being the hottest ticket in Gonzaga basketball history, they moved the game from the Bulldogs’ normal home arena (“New Kennel”), which only seats about 6,000 people, to Spokane Arena, which seats roughly double that. Kentucky is 1-0 all-time against Gonzaga, taking home an 80-72 victory in the 2002 Maui Invitational.
Bellarmine (Tuesday, Nov 29th) – Rupp Arena
After making the jump from NCAA DII to NCAA DI in 2020, the Knights of Bellarmine will get their shot at Kentucky when coach Scotty Davenport and his squad travel from Louisville to Lexington for the inaugural meeting between the two schools. Last year the Knights won the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament but did not receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament like they should have. This was due to rule and eligibility changes as a result of COVID. Kentucky is 7-1 all-time vs A-Sun opponents, with the only loss coming to Jacksonville in the 1970 NCAA Tournament.
Michigan (Sunday, Dec 4th) – London (The O2 Arena)
After the initial matchup in 2020 was canceled due to covid, the Wildcats and Wolverines are finally set to face off in London at the the infamous O2 Arena. It will be the first time Kentucky and Michigan have met since the 2014 Elite 8, when Aaron Harrison hit the legendary dagger at the buzzer to help the Cats take the last spot in the Final Four with a 75-72 victory. Kentucky leads the all-time series against Michigan 5-2. This will be the first time in Kentucky’s entire history that the Cats have played a regular season game on European soil.
UCLA (Saturday, Dec 17th) – NYC Madison Square Garden (CBS Sports Classic)
The two programs with the most national championships will meet again in the historic Madison Square Garden. This is Kentucky’s first meeting against UCLA since the 2017-18 season, where the Cats were bested by the Bruins 83-75 in New Orleans during the CBS Sports Classic. Kentucky still leads the all-time series against UCLA 8-7. Kentucky currently stands in 2nd place of the CBS Sports Classic with a 4-4 record and trails only North Carolina (5-3) — despite owning a 3-1 record against the Tar Heels in the Classic. Kentucky is 1-1 vs UCLA in the Classic.
Louisville (Saturday, Dec 31st) – Rupp Arena
After “ducking” Kentucky last season,Louisville will have nowhere to hide this season, in what will be one of the most memorable matchups in the storied rivalry. Kenny Payne – former Kentucky Assistant and beloved member of the BBN – will make his debut as the Louisville head coach in Rupp Arena, taking on his friend and mentor John Calipari. Kentucky leads the all-time series against Louisville with a 37-17 advantage. The Cats are 11-3 against the Cards under Coach Cal, and a perfect 6-0 against them in Rupp Arena – where they have not lost to Louisville since 2008.
Kansas (Saturday, Jan 28th) – Rupp Arena (SEC – Big 12 Challenge)
Last season, as a part of the SEC – Big 12 Challenge, Kentucky went into Allen Fieldhouse and gave Kansas one of the worst beatings in its entire history. The Cats came away with an 80-62 victory, leading by as many as 24 points with just under five minutes to go in the game. Unfortunately, Kansas would have the last laugh as they went on to cut down the nets and be crowned the 2022 National Champions. Kentucky has faced off against a defending National Champion in Rupp Arena twice under John Calipari – the first matchup coming back in 2009 during his first year as head coach – against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Kentucky, led by John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, and Patrick Patterson, sparked a 28-2 first-half run to give themselves a 30-11 lead early. There was no turning back from there. The Cats went on to defeat the defending champion Tar Heels 68-66. The other defending National Champion that Kentucky has defeated may need an asterisk. The (vacated) 2013 Champion Louisville Cardinals came into Rupp Arena the following season, where they were swiftly defeated 73-66 – Kentucky would beat the *defending champs* once more that season when the two teams met in the Sweet 16. If history is on our side, then Kentucky should have no problem taking down a defending champ for the third time under Coach Cal. Kentucky leads the all-time series against the Jayhawks 24-10. Kentucky currently holds a 5-3 record in the SEC – Big 12 Challenge.
SEC Schedule – Dates & Times TBD
The SEC has yet to announce the official schedule’s dates and times for this upcoming season, however, we do know the 9 home and 9 away games we will be playing this year.
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
- Ole Miss
This could very well end up being the most difficult schedule in the history of Kentucky basketball. As of now, Kentucky is set to take on SEVEN Top 10 opponents based on early Top 25 predictions – #1 Gonzaga, #6 Arkansas (2x), #8 Kansas, #9 Tennessee (2x), #10 UCLA. Other ranked teams that the Cats are set to play include #13 Auburn, #18 Texas A&M, #19 Michigan, #21 Alabama, and #25 Michigan State. The same early predictions have the Cats ranked #4 in the country.
If UK Athletics is to keep on track with previous years, then the full 31-game schedule should be released with all official dates, times, and TV networks sometime in September. This season is destined to be a memorable one for Kentucky basketball. Coach Cal prepared this team to go through the gauntlet, and that’s certainly what they will face with this upcoming schedule.