The start of Kentucky’s 2022-23 basketball season is now just over two months away, but there are still several moving parts in the Wildcats’ schedule for the upcoming campaign.
The unique list of fixtures – a change of venue for the blue-white scrimmage, a last-minute addition from a big-name opponent, plus a trip to England to circumvent – led to a later-than-usual reveal of the all Cats. program.
Typically, the UK non-conference list is finalized much earlier. Last year, this calendar came out at the end of August. In previous years, the Cats’ non-conference lineup was official in late July (and often much earlier). Obviously, that won’t happen this time around, with the timeline now shifting to September.
Here’s the latest information on the Kentucky schedule, as well as what to expect next.
Kentucky basketball preseason
The UK have technically already started their pre-season roster – playing four games in the Bahamas last month – but there have been no official details on the Cats’ traditional start to the season.
The scheduled date for Big Blue Madness in the Rupp Arena is October 14, but that hasn’t been announced or finalized yet. The UK is also still working on the logistics of a possible return of Camp Madness, which John Calipari said this summer he wanted to return to after a two-year hiatus.
There will also be additional intrigue surrounding the annual Bleu-Blanc scrimmage this pre-season. It was announced during the team’s open practice to benefit Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief last month that play would be moved to that area. The Herald-Leader was told this week that those plans were still being worked out, with the scrum set to be held in Pikeville the week after Madness (making October 21 a possible date).
Kentucky typically plays two exhibition games before the start of the regular season. No opponent has been announced, but at least one exhibition this season will be against a national schedule. In recent years, these two games have often been played on the two Fridays before the start of the regular season (making October 28 and November 4 possible).
UK 2022-23 non-conference schedule
So far, the only six games officially on Kentucky’s schedule are on the non-conference roster. They are …
Nov. 15 vs. Michigan State: This is the annual Champions Classic game, which will be held in Indianapolis this season (with Duke vs. Kansas as another part of the doubleheader).
November 29 against Bellarmine: The defending Atlantic Sun Tournament champions continue their transition to Division I status, and the Knights will meet Kentucky for the first time with this trip to Rupp Arena.
December 4 vs. Michigan: The Cats travel overseas for an intriguing fixture with Wolverines at London’s O2 Arena, a fixture originally scheduled for the 2020-21 season before being pushed back two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic 19. Tipping time is 1:00 PM EST (6:00 PM in London).
December 17 vs. UCLA: The CBS Sports Classic moves to Madison Square Garden in New York, where Kentucky meets UCLA in what could be a battle between two top-10 teams. The game will be played at 5:15 p.m. on CBS.
December 31 vs. Louisville: Longtime Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne returns to Rupp Arena in his first year as U of L head coach. The rivalry game takes place on New Year’s Eve this year, with a noon warning on CBS.
January 28: vs. Kansas: Kentucky hosts the defending national champions at home this season after traveling to Lawrence for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge last year. It will be a showpiece game on Saturday featuring two of the top 10 pre-season teams.
It’s not officially on Kentucky’s schedule yet, but the Cats will play Gonzaga — the eventual No. 1 team in the preseason rankings — Nov. 20 at Spokane Arena. The Zags will play at Rupp Arena in the 2023-24 season. It’s set to be an epic sporting weekend for the UK, with the Football Wildcats hosting Georgia on November 19.
The relatively late addition of the UK-Gonzaga match – it was also announced during UK open training last month – has had a ripple effect on the rest of the Cats’ non-conference schedule. Details are still being worked out.
Duquesne, North Florida and Yale have all been revealed as Kentucky’s opponents this season. Duquesne and North Florida are set to be two of three opponents in Britain’s MTE (multi-team event), with all three matches taking place at Rupp Arena. Yale, which won the Ivy League tournament last season, will be a standalone game.
The United Kingdom will play at least one regular season game before the Champions Classic game against Michigan State, but that opponent has yet to be finalized.
With Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday this year — plus the UK-Michigan game in London scheduled for a Sunday — it disrupts Kentucky’s typical basketball cycle of Saturday games in December. The UK will still play Saturday matches on December 10 (not yet announced), December 17 (UCLA) and December 31 (Louisville).
Closer to Christmas, the Cats will play a midweek game before the holiday weekend, with Dec. 21 at 10:00 a.m. Florida A&M resembling the date of this game. The Southeastern Conference opener is slated for Dec. 28, with the Louisville game taking place three days later before the Cats jump to the full SEC roster.
SEC schedule coming soon
The league schedule is usually announced in the first half of September, and the Herald-Leader has been informed that the SEC hopes to reveal its 2022-23 games next week. Kentucky is scheduled to start on the road Dec. 28.
Although the exact dates and times are not yet known, the matches have already been announced.
The Cats will play home games against Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
The UK will travel to play in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
CBS Sports’ most recent preseason rankings update places Kentucky as the SEC’s best team at No. 4 nationally, with five additional league teams in the Top 25.
Arkansas is No. 6 nationally, followed by Tennessee at No. 9, Auburn at No. 13, Texas A&M at No. 18 and Alabama at No. 21.
The Cats will host four of those five teams at Rupp Arena this season. They will face Alabama on the road and face Arkansas and Tennessee twice during the regular season.