Throughout his time as head coach at Kentucky, John Calipari’s put together solid non-conference schedules that help prepare his teams for SEC play and the month of March. The 2015-16 schedule should be no different for a team that lost more than 85 percent of its scoring from last season, with Kentucky releasing its full non-conference slate on Thursday.
Among the teams the Wildcats will play are reigning national champion Duke at the Champions Classic, in-state rival Louisville, Kansas and UCLA. In total, nine of Kentucky’s 12 non-conference games will be played against teams that played in a postseason tournament in 2014-15 with five reaching the NCAA tournament.
“Putting a schedule together, especially one like this, is fun,” Calipari said in the release. “Having to play those games is a different story. To understate it, this will obviously be a challenging schedule for a young team like ours, which lost more than 85 percent of its scoring and nearly 80 percent of its rebounding. We’re excited for the challenge.”
Kentucky will open its regular season with games November 13 and 14 at Rupp Arena against Albany and NJIT, with those games being part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. Then comes the game against Duke November 17 at the United Center in Chicago, which is one of three neutral site games on Kentucky’s non-conference schedule. The other two are against USF in Miami (November 27) and against Ohio State in Brooklyn (December 19).
Kentucky will play just two road games in non-conference play, which tends to be commonplace amongst major conference programs. The Wildcats visit UCLA December 3, and they’ll visit Allen Fieldhouse to play Kansas January 30 as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Kentucky will also host one of college basketball’s fiercest rivalries, with Louisville making the trip to Lexington the day after Christmas.
Below is Kentucky’s full non-conference schedule, which also includes a game against Bobby Hurley-led Arizona State December 12 in Lexington.
Friday, November 13 vs. Albany
Saturday, November 14 vs. NJIT
Tuesday, November 17 vs. Duke (in Chicago)
Friday, November 20 vs. Wright State
Tuesday, November 24 vs. Boston University
Friday, November 27 vs. USF (in Miami)
Monday, November 30 vs. Illinois State
Thursday, December 3 at UCLA
Wednesday, December 9 vs. Eastern Kentucky
Saturday, December 12 vs. Arizona State
Saturday, December 19 vs. Ohio State (in Brooklyn)
Saturday, December 26 vs. Louisville
Saturday, January 30 at Kansas