Notable games: Men’s basketball


Kentucky head coach John Calipari directs his team during the game against Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 73-66 clinching the SEC regular season title. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Duke (Season opener)

  • When: Nov. 9 

  • Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City 

  • 2020 record: 13-11 (Did not make the NCAA Tournament)

  • Last matchup: No. 4 Duke defeated No. 2 UK 118-84 (Nov. 6, 2018)

  • Notes: This is the final season for legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Three starters return to the Blue Devils, headlined by junior forward Wendell Moore Jr. Duke brings in the No. 4 recruiting class including top-10 freshman Paolo Banchero. Similar to UK, this year comes with a lot of uncertainty, but the talent is visible with Duke. The Blue Devils pose a challenging first test for Kentucky.

Ohio State (CBS Sports Classic)

  • When: Dec. 18

  • Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

  • 2020 record: 21-10 (Lost in Round of 64 to Oral Roberts, 75-72)

  • Last matchup: No. 5 OSU defeated No. 6 UK 71-65 (Dec. 21, 2019)

  • Notes: EJ Liddell, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer a year ago, returns to Columbus for his junior season. Liddell averages 16.2 points per game as well as 6.7 rebounds per game, pacing one of the best frontcourts in the nation. Ohio State surprised the college basketball world last year, earning a two seed in the NCAA Tournament. This season, the Buckeyes will again push for a Big Ten title and top-seed in March.


  • When: Dec. 22

  • Where: Lexington, Kentucky

  • 2020 record: 13-7 (Did not make the NCAA Tournament)

  • Last matchup: UofL defeated UK 62-59 (Dec. 26, 2020)

  • Notes: A lot has happened in Louisville this offseason, most of which hasn’t been on the hardwood. On the court, head coach Chris Mack welcomes two senior transfers who will look to provide some much needed offense for the Cardinals. Noah Locke joins Louisville from Florida, while Jarrod West arrives from Marshall. Louisville also landed the top JUCO transfer, Elbert Ellis. The ACC is for the taking this season, but it will take some top-tier production from some new faces if the Cardinals want to make a run for the title.


  • When: Jan. 15

  • Where: Lexington, Kentucky

  • 2020 record: 18-9 (Lost in Round of 64 to Oregon State, 70-56)

  • Last matchup: UK defeated No. 19 Tenn 70-55 (Feb. 6, 2021)

  • Notes: Tennessee failed to meet expectations last season, getting bounced in the first round of the tournament. Yves Pons, Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson, who averaged a combined 32 points per game last year, are no longer with the Volunteers. However, John Fulkerson returns for his sixth season in Knoxville. Auburn transfer Justin Powell will look to provide a spark to the UT offense off of the bench. Tennessee will rely on its youth to produce this season, but a top five SEC finish seems imminent. 

Kansas (Big 12/SEC Challenge)

  • When: Jan. 29

  • Where: Lawrence, Kansas

  • 2020 record: 21-9 (Lost in Round of 32 to USC, 85-51)

  • Last matchup: No. 7 Kansas def No. 20 UK 65-62 (Dec. 1, 2020)

  • Notes: Bill Self will once again have the Jayhawks in contention for a Big 12 title. Marcus Garrett departed, but David McCormack returns after a second-team All-Big 12 nod last season. Remy Martin comes in from Arizona State and will vie for an All-American selection. Kansas will be a frontrunner for a top-seed in the tournament come March. 


  • When: Feb. 19

  • Where: Lexington, Kentucky

  • 2020 record: 26-7 (Lost in Sweet 16 to UCLA, 88-78)

  • Last matchup: No. 9 Bama def UK 70-59 (Jan. 26, 2021)

  • Notes: Last season, the Crimson Tide won the SEC for the first time in 19 years. Three crucial pieces of that team are now gone, but Bama has what may be the best backcourt in college basketball. Jaden Shackelford returns to Tuscaloosa and is joined by a highly-touted prospect in JD Davison. The Tide is young, but possesses fire power at every position and will look for nothing less than a second straight SEC title.