If Kentucky is going to go 40-0 next season, they certainly are going to have their work cut out for them, as John Calipari put together a strong non-conference schedule.
After playing a pair of guarantee games to kick off the season, Kentucky heads to Chicago to take on Michigan State in the Champions Classic. They’ll return home to play four games in the Keightley Classic — including a rematch with Robert Morris, who beat Kentucky in Pittsburgh in the first round of the NIT last season — before their schedule ramps up in December.
The Wildcats have a date with Providence at the Barclays Center and will travel to Arlington, TX, to take on Baylor at Cowboys Stadium. After that, Coach Cal sandwiched a trip to Chapel Hill to take on UNC between home dates with Boise State and Belmont.
Kentucky will end their non-conference schedule by hosting Louisville on December 28th.
Put it all together, and the Wildcats will play the other two top three teams in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25 while playing the No. 10 team on the road and hosting a Boise State team that we have just outside the top 25. Even some of their buy games come against very good mid-major programs — Belmont, Robert Morris, Cleveland State.
Kentucky may end up being challenged more in the non-conference that they are during SEC play.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.
The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.