Two analysts who rate the strength of schedules saw Kentucky facing a solid group of opponents this coming basketball season. But the analysts also saw UK fans looking at a poor home schedule in a year they must pay higher prices for tickets.
Of UK's overall schedule in 2010-11, Ken Pomeroy wrote in an e-mail, "I would guess it's slightly more difficult than the schedule of a typical top-25 team. With the potential to play Washington and Michigan State in Maui, and having road games at UNC and Louisville, there are a few serious tests. All in all, it's not Cal's most difficult schedule by a long shot, but it's reasonably tough."
But when asked for his first impression of a home schedule in Rupp Arena that has the Cats playing East Tennessee State, Boston, Indiana, Mississippi Valley State, Winthrop, Coppin State and Penn, Pomeroy wrote, "Oh, wow."
That UK raised prices by $7 per ticket for home games (and raised the donations to the K Fund required for selected seating by as much as 370 percent) enhances the wow factor.
"I am kind of dumb about financial matters," wrote Pomeroy, who runs the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings and has a blog at kenpom.com. "There's no doubt that there are a lot of people that want to see UK play, whether it's against Penn or a top team. If they are selling out every game as it is, it seems like demand warrants a raise in ticket prices even though there aren't many attractive games there."
Another analyst, Jerry Palm of collegerpi.com, agreed that Kentucky's schedule lacks any marquee opponent in Rupp Arena.
"I'd say that's a typical major-school schedule," Palm wrote. "A few good tests (UNC, N.D., Louisville) and mostly cupcakes otherwise. For a young but talented team, that's not bad."
When told that UK raised ticket prices for its home schedule, Palm wrote, "For that group? I hope the SEC schedule makes up for it."
UK's Southeastern Conference schedule lacks star power considering that two of the three home opponents from the Western Division are rebuilding LSU and Auburn.
UK's non-conference home opponents had a combined record of 84-128 last season. Of the seven opponents playing in Rupp Arena next season, East Tennessee State had the best final Ratings Percentage Index last season. That RPI (according to Collegerpi.com) was 121. Penn (299), Mississippi Valley State (325) and Coppin State (337) had three of the 49 worst RPIs among Division I teams in the nation.
In releasing the schedule, UK touted expectations of "another wildly entertaining ride." Coach John Calipari returned Kentucky basketball to elite status in his first season.
"This year's schedule challenges us from game one and I hope it will prepare our young team for the battles we will face in March," Calipari said in a statement released by UK. "Great job by John Robic and our athletic department in getting the schedule together. There should be lots for the Big Blue Nation to get excited over."
In a renewal of an old favorite, UK will play Notre Dame in its home-away-from-home game in Louisville's Freedom Hall. That game will be on Dec. 8 as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge. It should not be considered a revival of the UK-Notre Dame series in Louisville, Notre Dame spokesperson Bernadette Cafarelli said.
Kentucky's schedule includes a return to Louisville on New Year's Eve, when the Cats will play the Cardinals at noon in U of L's new arena.
The schedule also includes two visits by former UK players. Dale Brown brings his Dillard University team to Rupp Arena for an exhibition game on Nov. 5. The other game against a former UK player will be on Dec. 18 when Sean Woods brings Mississippi Valley State to Rupp.
UK also announced that the Joe Craft Ticket Office will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. next week to facilitate student season-ticket pickup and basketball renewals.
(Home games in capital letters. All times Eastern.)
Date Opponent Time TV
Nov. 1 a-PIKEVILLE TBA TBA
Nov. 5 a-DILLARDTBA TBA
Nov. 12 EAST TENNESSEE ST. TBA TBA
Nov. 19 b-Portland 10:30 p.m. ESPNU
Nov. 22 c-Oklahoma 5:30 p.m. ESPN2
Nov. 23 c-Virginia/Washington4:30/9:30 p.m.ESPN/ESPN2
Nov. 24 c-Maui Invitational TBAESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU
Nov. 30 BOSTON TBA TBA
Dec. 4 At North Carolina 12:30 p.m. CBS-27
Dec. 8 d-Notre Dame 9:30 p.m. ESPN
Dec. 11 INDIANA 5:15 p.m. ESPN
Dec. 18 MISSISSIPPI VALLEY ST. TBA TBA
Dec. 22 WINTHROP TBA TBA
Dec. 28 COPPIN ST. TBA TBA
Dec. 31 At Louisville Noon CBS-27
Jan. 3 PENN 7 p.m. ESPNU
Jan. 8 At Georgia 4 p.m. SEC Network
Jan. 11 AUBURN 7 p.m. ESPNU
Jan. 15 LSU 4 p.m. SEC Network
Jan. 18 At Alabama 9 p.m. ESPN
Jan. 22 At South Carolina 6 p.m. ESPN
Jan. 29 GEORGIA 4 p.m. ESPN
Feb. 1 At Mississippi 7 p.m. ESPNU
Feb. 5 At Florida 9 p.m. ESPN
Feb. 8 TENNESSEE 9 p.m. ESPN
Feb. 12 At Vanderbilt 1 p.m. CBS-27
Feb. 15 MISSISSIPPI STATE 7 p.m. ESPN
Feb. 19 SOUTH CAROLINA 4 p.m. SEC Network
Feb. 23 At Arkansas 8 p.m. SEC Network
Feb. 26 FLORIDA 4 p.m. CBS-27
Mar. 1 VANDERBILT 9 p.m. ESPN
Mar. 6 At Tennessee Noon CBS-27
Mar. 10-13e-SEC Tournament TBA ABC-36
a-exhibition; b-at Rose Garden, Portland, Ore.; c-Maui Invitational (Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, Hawaii); d-SEC/Big East Invitational (Freedom Hall, Louisville); e-at Atlanta, Ga. (Georgia Dome).